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Scientific Odds & Ends
 
(Taken from: A Supplement To Annals Of The World Reference CD-Rom 2003 There are 6 articles on this page)
 
 

#1. A Review of Dr. Russ Humphreys' A Young-Earth Relativistic Cosmology by David J. Tyler

(Dr Humphreys' book: Starlight And Time)

Creationists who believe in short timescales of Earth history have had a few problems with cosmology. Criticisms of the standard Big Bang model have often been made, often drawing on voices of dissent coming from the academic community. However, the positive statements of a creationist cosmology have yet to emerge. These statements must address three crucial phenomena.

1. Light from distant galaxies. The distances are immense, with some of the estimated times of light travel measured in billions of years.

2. Galactic red shifts. The light from distant galaxies is shifted towards the red end of the spectrum - for which an explanation is needed.

3. Cosmic microwave background. Low level microwaves permeate space and are observed to be remarkably uniform in all directions.

The Big Bang cosmology has been successful, of course, because it does have an explanation for these cosmological data. It maintains

1. that the universe is billions of years old;

2. that the universe is expanding and

3. that the microwave background represents radiation that was generated during the initial stages of the Big Bang.

Russell Humphreys presented two papers at the conference: one discussing 'A biblical basis for creationist cosmology' and the other detailing `Progress toward a young-earth relativistic cosmology'.

In the first paper, he argued that the Bible does provide a foundation for cosmological thinking. It was suggested that the 'expanse' (or 'firmament' KJV) is the place where the sun, moon and stars are: interstellar space. The waters above the expanse were understood to be a water boundary to the created universe. The birds fly, not 'in the expanse', but 'in the face of the expanse' - referring to the atmosphere of the Earth. (This perspective led to a reconsideration of the Canopy theory - which was rejected as neither biblically-based nor scientifically necessary.) Several biblical texts refer to God stretching out the heavens: these were understood to mean that 'God stretched out space itself at some time in the past'. This is an important point of the reinterpretation, as it is linked with a relativistic expansion of the universe during creation week.

Humphreys considered the word 'deep' (tehom) in the Bible (Genesis chapter 1 verse 2) and suggested that it should be understood as ordinary liquid water. The cosmological model that was developed from this framework considers all the galaxies in the universe to have been formed from the waters of this 'deep'. Based on an estimated mass of the universe of 3 times 10 to the power 51 kilograms, Humphreys calculates that the 'deep' would be a sphere of water with a radius of at least 1 light year. Since the expanse is formed in 'the midst of the waters' (Genesis chapter 1 verse 6), it follows that the Earth must be at or near the centre of the universe.

Humphreys suggests that the Bible teaches a cosmological geocentricity.

The paper covers much more ground than can be reviewed here, but the 6 general conclusions are listed below. They all have relevance to the proposed relativistic cosmology.

1. Matter in the universe is bounded.

2. The universe has expanded.

3. The Earth is near the centre of the universe.

4. The universe is young as measured by clocks on Earth.

5. The original matter God created was ordinary liquid water.

6. God transformed the water into various elements by compaction.

The question of how a biblically-based cosmology could be constructed was addressed in the second paper. Humphreys drew attention to the necessity of presuppositions when formulating cosmological models.

Stephen Hawking and George Ellis have written: '...we are not able to make cosmological models without some mixture of ideology'. Their work makes use of the Copernican Principle: the universe has no edges and no centre - it looks everywhere broadly the same. This principle, it is important to note, is not a conclusion of science, but an assumption thought to be valid.

The implications of the Copernican Principle for modern cosmology are profound. Humphreys argues that when these ideas are expressed mathematically and applied to the equations of general relativity, they result in Big-Bang cosmologies. Humphreys looks again at general relativity theory, but using different presuppositions. These are: the universe is of finite size and has a boundary; the Earth is near the centre; the cosmos has been expanded by God in the past; the cosmos is young. The picture that emerges is dramatically different from the Big Bang. The following scenario combines Humphreys' biblical framework and the results of his research into general relativity theory.

When the 'deep' was created, it was a black hole. Under gravity, it collapsed and the temperature, pressure and density increased to the stage where thermonuclear reactions occurred and nucleosynthesis took place.

Intense light was everywhere inside the black hole. The collapse is considered to have lasted one day - and then, in a creative act of God, the black hole was converted into a white hole. The result was a rapid, inflationary expansion of space. This is when the waters above the expanse, the expanse and the waters below the expanse were differentiated. With expansion came cooling - and at about 3000 Kelvin, atoms would have been formed and the expanse would become transparent. Thermal radiation in the expanding expanse would be very uniform and the temperature would continue to drop. At the end of expansion, the temperature reached 2.76 kelvin (which we observe today).

At some time during the expansion, the shrinking event horizon would approach the centre of the white hole - the Earth. Whilst this is suggested to have occurred on the morning of the 4th Day (Earth time), the time dilation effects of relativity theory permit 'billions of years worth of physical processes [to take] place in the distant cosmos'. Stars and galaxies formed, and time elapsed so that light was able to travel to every corner of the universe. Hence, Adam and Eve, on the 6th Day (Earth time) were able to look into the expanse and see the splendour of the heavens.

The model thus claims to explain all three of the cosmological phenomena mentioned earlier: light from distant galaxies, galactic red shifts and the cosmic microwave background. It suggests that time elapsed at different rates on Earth and in the expanse (6 Days Earth time and billions of years cosmological time, possible because the Earth is at the centre of the universe).

The status of Humphreys' work is that of hypothesis. 'I consider this paper only the outlines of a theory'. He acknowledges that much work has to be done to take it beyond 'qualitative answers' to cosmological phenomena. The quantitative effects of time dilation require detailed research. He also points to the potential for providing explanations for many of the anomalies encountered by conventional theories - including a possible observational disproof of the Copernican Principle.

The claim that this is a biblically-based cosmology must also be addressed. Does the biblical history really provide this framework for cosmology? Christians should be cautious about the reception and use of these ideas until scholarly debate has taken place.

Even if Humphreys is wrong in his biblical interpretation, he has contributed significantly to cosmological studies. We have known that presuppositions are important for the Big-Bang theory - but Humphreys has worked this through in some detail. Furthermore, he has demonstrated that with different presuppositions, different conclusions are possible. A door has opened - Christian students of cosmology will find this research a great stimulus to their own thinking.
 
 

#2. Geology and the young earth Answering those Bible-believing bibliosceptics by Tas Walker. First published in: Creation Ex Nihilo 21(4):16?0 September-November 1999

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The hand-written note pinned to some photocopied pages was typical. I wonder if you could help with a geological problem??The writer, a Bible-believing Christian, was confused. He had just encountered some tired old geological arguments attacking the straightforward biblical account of earth history ?i.e., denying a recent creation and a global Flood on the basis of geological evidences?

A number of books in the last 25 years have stirred up these so-called geological problems?and undermined faith in the Bible for many people. Sadly, the ones which cause most confusion and distress are those written by professing bible-believers?

A curriculum writer with a Christian home school association wrote to us that he was pretty well wiped out after reading these books. He wondered if we might have answers to what these gentlemen say. We certainly have! Another person who had read some of them said, I may have been overlooking information that cast doubts upon the recent creation model.?

Because the recent creation model he refers to is simply what the Bible plainly says, he has really been caused to doubt the Bible.

The unsuspecting readers of such books, thinking they are getting something from

bible-believing Christians? expect encouragement and faith-building material. They are generally unprepared for the explosive mixture of heretical theology, poor science and vehement attacks on Bible-believers.

For example, the author Alan Hayward claims to be a Bible-believing Christian? However, he is a unitarian, which means he denies the tri-unity of God. The deity of Christ is clearly taught in the New Testament (e.g. John 1:1?4, 5:18; Titus 2:13; for more information, see our detailed Q&A pages Is Jesus Christ really God? and Is one God really three persons? ?yet Hayward denies this. Clearly, Bible-believing?Hayward chooses to reinterpret those parts of the New Testament with which he disagrees.

He works the same way with the Old Testament. Instead of accepting the clear teaching of Genesis, he reinterprets the passages to fit his billion-year preference for the age of the earth.

In so doing, of course, he introduces confusion and problems that destabilise readers. We are warned to beware of teachers who vandalise the clear teaching of Scripture to fit with their philosophy (Colossians 2:8).

Superficially, Hayward amasses an impressive battery of arguments as to why the Bible can’t mean what it says. Perhaps the single most important lesson from his book is his strategy itself. Each of his attacks on the Word of God elevates some other authority? whether derived from geology, astronomy, secular history or theology, above the Bible. This approach is as old as the Garden of Eden.

True knowledge begins with the Bible (Proverbs 1:7, Psalms 119:160; 138:2), and that is where we need to start. God was there when He created the world. He knows everything, does not tell lies, and does not make mistakes. It is from the Bible that we learn that the world is young (see also The earth: how old does it look?).

If the Bible taught that the world was millions of years old, we would believe that. However, the concept of millions of years of death and suffering contradicts the Word of God, and destroys the foundation of the Gospel of Christ.

Many people find it difficult to accept that scientific investigation should start with the Bible. They think we can answer the question about the age of the earth by coming to the evidence with an open mind? In fact, no one has an open mind. Evidence does not interpret itself; rather, everyone views the world through a belief framework. Unfortunately, as humans we never have all the information. So, when we start from the evidence, we can never be sure our conclusions are right ?like in a classic whodunnit just one piece of information can change the whole picture. By contrast, when we start from the Word of God, we can be sure that what it says is true.

Even if we can't answer some of the apparent problems now, we can be confident that there is an answer. We may not find out about the answer on this side of eternity, but that would simply be because we did not have all the information necessary to come to the right conclusion. On the other hand, ongoing research may reveal the answer ?and it often has, as we will see.

On first appearance, the evidence that Hayward assembles seems so overwhelming. But the problems he describes are easily answered ?indeed many answers were known before he wrote his book. Either he was unaware of the answers, or he deliberately ignored them. Let’s look at some of the science he presents so persuasively.

Varves

A common argument against the Bible involves varves ?rock formations with alternating layers of fine dark, and coarse light sediment. Annual changes are assumed to deposit bands with light layers in summer and dark layers in winter. It is reported that some rock formations contain hundreds of thousands of varves, thereby proving the earth is much older than the Bible says. But the assumption that each couplet always takes a year to form is wrong. Recent catastrophes show that violent events like the Flood described in Genesis can deposit banded rock formations very quickly. The Mount St Helens eruption in Washington State produced eight metres (25 feet) of finely layered sediment in a single afternoon! And a rapidly pumped sand slurry was observed to deposit about a metre (3 feet) of fine layers on a beach over an area the size of a football field (cross-section shown on the right: normal silica sand grains are separated by darker layers of denser mineral grains like rutile).

When sedimentation was studied in the laboratory, it was discovered that fine bands form automatically as the moving water transports the different sized particles sideways into position (right). Surprisingly, the thickness of each band was found to depend on the relative particle sizes rather than on the flow conditions. A layered rock (diatomite) was separated into its particles, and when redeposited in flowing fluid, identical layers formed.

Much is often made of the Green River varves,9 in Wyoming, USA. But these bands cannot possibly be annual deposits because well-preserved fish and birds are found all through the sediments.

It is unthinkable that these dead animals could have rested on the bottom of the lake for decades, being slowly covered by sediment. Their presence indicates catastrophic burial. It is often claimed that the fish and birds remained in prime condition at the bottom of the lake because the water was highly alkaline and this preserved their carcasses. Yet highly alkaline water causes organic material to disintegrate, and that is why alkaline powder is used in dishwashers! [Ed. note: some sceptics have claimed that alkali merely cuts grease evidently ignorant of the elementary chemistry involved, i.e. base-catalyzed hydrolysis of polymers, which would do the opposite of preserving the fish!] Another problem for the varve explanation is that the number of bands is not consistent across the formation as it should be if they were annual deposits.

Evaporites

Similar bands in some huge deposits containing calcium carbonate and calcium sulphate in Texas are also used to argue the case for long ages. One explanation says the deposits were formed when the sun evaporated seawater hence the term vaporite deposits? Naturally, to make such large deposits in this way would take a long time. However, the high chemical purity of the deposits shows they were not exposed to a dry, dusty climate for thousands of years. Rather, it is more likely that they formed rapidly from the interaction between hot and cold seawater during undersea volcanic activity ?a hydrothermal deposit.

Too many fossils?

Another claim of bibliosceptics is that there are too many fossils. If all those animals could be resurrected, it is said, they would cover the entire planet to a depth of at least 0.5 metres (1.5 feet). So they could not have come from a single generation of living creatures buried by the Flood.

Not surprisingly, the substance disappears when the detail is examined. The number of fossils is calculated from an abnormal situation the Karroo formation in South Africa. In this formation the fossils comprise a fossil graveyard the accumulation of animal remains in a local sedimentary basin? It is certainly improper to apply this abnormally high population density to the whole earth. The calculation also uses incorrect information on today's animal population densities and takes no account of the different conditions that likely applied before the Flood.

Too much coal?

Another argument used against the Bible time-line is that the pre-Flood world could not have produced enough vegetation to make all the coal. But again, this argument is based on wrong assumptions. The pre-Flood land area was almost certainly greater before all the Floodwaters were released onto the surface of the earth. Also, the climate was probably much more productive before the Flood. Furthermore, it has been discovered that much coal was derived from forests which floated on water (see also 320k JPG drawing of the floating forest.). So, calculations based only on the area of land would be wrong. And finally, the estimates of how much vegetation is needed are based on the wrong idea that coal forms slowly in swamps and that most of the vegetation rots. The Flood would have buried the vegetation quickly, producing a hundred times more coal than from a swamp.22

Fossil forests

The petrified forests of Yellowstone National Park have often been used to argue against Bible chronology. These were once interpreted as buried and petrified in place - as many as 50 successive times, with a brand new forest growing upon the debris of the previous one. Naturally, such an interpretation would require hundreds of thousands of years to deposit the whole sequence and is inconsistent with the Bible time-scale. But this interpretation is also inconsistent with the fact that the tree trunks and stumps have been broken off at their base and do not have proper root systems. Furthermore, trees from different layers have the same signature ring pattern, demonstrating that they all grew at the same time.

Rather than 50 successive forests, the geological evidence is more consistent with the trees having been uprooted from another place, and carried into position by catastrophic volcanic mudflows ?similar to what happened during the Mount St Helens eruption in 1980, where waterlogged trees were also seen to float and sink with the root end pointing downwards.

Pitch

The origin of pitch is also used to ridicule the account of Noah in the Bible. Pitch is a petroleum residue, we are told, and creationists say that petroleum was formed by the Flood. So, where did Noah get the pitch to seal the Ark (Genesis 6:14)? This old argument stems from ignorance of how pitch can be made. The widespread use of petroleum is a 20th century phenomenon. How did they seal wooden ships hundreds of years ago before petroleum was available? In those days, pitch was made from pine tree resin. A huge pitch-making industry flourished to service the demand.

Noah’s mud-bath

Some attempts to discredit the Bible are wildly absurd ?like the idea that there is too much sedimentary rock in the world to have been deposited by the one-year Flood. It is claimed that the Ark would have floated on an ocean of earthy soup?and no fish could have survived. This argument takes no account of how water actually carries sediment. The claim namely assumes that all the sediment was evenly mixed in all the water throughout the Flood year, as if thoroughly stirred in a garden fishpond. Sedimentation does not occur like this. Instead, moving water transports sediment into a 멳asin?and, once deposited, it is isolated from the system.12 The same volume of water can pick up more sediment as it is driven across the continents, for example, by earth movements during the Flood.

More (former) problems, more answers

Some similar geological problems which were once claimed to be unanswerable for Bible-believers but for which there are now clear answers include:

Coral reefs need millions of years to grow. [Actually, what was thought to be coral reef turns out to be thick carbonate platforms, most probably deposited during the Flood. The reef is only a very thin layer on top. In other cases, the reef did not grow in place from coral but was transported there by water.]

Chalk deposits need millions of years to accumulate.  [Chalk accumulation is not steady state but highly episodic. Under cataclysmic Flood conditions, explosive blooms of tiny organisms like coccolithophores could produce the chalk beds in a short space of time.]

Granites need millions of years to cool. [Not when the cooling effects of circulating water are allowed for.]

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Below: Cooling of a granite pluton by (a) conduction and (b) convection. The sizes of the arrows are proportional to the rate of heat flow to the surface. Convection dissipates the heat along fractures very quickly.

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Metamorphic rocks need million of years to form.  [Metamorphic reactions happen quickly when there is plenty of water, just as the Flood would provide.]

Sediment kilometres thick covering metamorphic rocks took millions of years to erode. [Only at the erosion rates observed today. There is no problem eroding kilometres of sediment quickly with large volumes of fast-moving water during the Flood.]

Conclusion

The section above shows some of the other arguments along this line that were once claimed to be unanswerable? If this article had been written some years earlier, we would not have had all those answers. We still don’t have all the answers to some others, but this does not mean that the answers don’t exist, just that no-one has come up with them yet. There may be new arguments in the future alleging to prove that the Bible, or one of the previous answers, is wrong. And when these are answered, there might be new ones again. That is the nature of science. All its conclusions are tentative, and new discoveries mean that old ideas must be changed that is why creationist research is important. But science ultimately can’t prove or disprove the Bible. Faith but not a blind faith is needed. It is not the facts that contradict the Bible, but the interpretations applied to them. Since we never will know everything, we must start with the sure Word of God in order to make sense of the world around us.
 
 

#3. TREE RINGS AND BIBLICAL CHRONOLOGY by Frank Lorey, M.A.

Introduction

About two miles high, in the White Mountains of eastern California, grows a unique tree, Pinus aristata (also referred to as Pinus longaeva). Commonly known as the Bristlecone pine, it is not a tall or stately appearing tree; it is very slow growing, only one inch in diameter per 100 years and up to 25-30 feet tall.  The remarkable fact about the tree is that it is noted as the oldest known living thing in the world, far surpassing the vastly more famous Sequoia. Due to the remote location of Bristlecone forests, few people have heard of these trees, much less visited the area of their growth.

Tree Ring Research

The Bristlecone pine became famous in scientific circles through the work of Dr. Edmund Schulman (1908-1958) of the University of Arizona. His dendrochronological studies spanned almost thirty years, of which the last five were spent mostly in the White Mountains. Through the study of annual growth rings of these trees, a fairly precise method of absolute dating has been obtained. So far, this amazing record from the Bristlecone pines only applies to the southwestern portion of the United States and has become useful also to the field of archaeology where ancient roof beams have been more accurately dated using the tree-ring growth records.

The White Mountains rise abruptly east of the Sierra Nevadas, reaching over 14,000 feet in elevation near the ancient Bristlecone pine forest. They lie in the rain shadow of the Sierras, with an average annual rainfall of 10-13 inches. The Bristlecones live between the elevations of 9,500 and 11,500 feet, sculptured into stubby, twisted shapes by the harsh environment. Needles stay on the trees for up to thirty years, and seeds of the oldest trees are just as viable as the youngest.

A Bristlecone pine tree may comprise up to 90% dead wood, a thin vein of living tissue is often surrounded and protected by the dead wood. The soil in the ancient forest is very alkaline, comprised of dolomitic limestone, which supports the growth of only one other type of tree뾲he Limber pine. Few other plants survive in these conditions, and the Bristlecone pine forest appears quite desolate compared to the environment of most other forests.

Dates Obtained

Bristlecones grow in other similar areas and were already the focus of much speculation when Schulman arrived on the scene in 1953. A reported 4900-year-old tree in the Snake Ridge region of Nevada was actually discovered to be only 3000 years old. Schulman quickly found a tree in the White

Mountains dating back about 4300 years and named it Pine Alpha, the first found anywhere with an absolute date older than 4000 years. During his last season of research the summer of 1957 he discovered "Methuselah," a tree dating back 4600 years. No older tree has been discovered since then, and the Methuselah tree is not marked so as to protect it from souvenir hunters.

Schulman's work was carried on and extended after his death by Drs. H. C. Fritts and Charles W. Ferguson, also of the Laboratory of Tree Ring Research at the University of Arizona. To tap into trees without damaging them, a special Swedish incremental borer was used. Borings up to forty inches long and as thin as pencil lead are removed from the living trees. Ferguson then started sampling the dead wood found scattered on the southern slopes of the mountains and found that the loose dead wood did not match the existing ring patterns. The gap between living and dead wood was first breached by A. E. Douglas while testing prehistoric beams in ruins near Show Low, Arizona. Ferguson was able to make a continuous tree-ring record that eventually reached 8680 years before the present in the mid-1970s. Dating research in the 1980s did reach a growth-ring series of about 11,300 rings, but has led to much debate over the possibility of multiple ring growth during many periods of climatic history. This would allow for a more recent dating than the individual growth rings show. Similar dates have been obtained in parallel research done on European oak and pine trees. The dates that were obtained so far have been used to correct errant radiocarbon dating readings which had significant errors in dates over 3000 years before present. These tree-ring dates offer much in the way of significance for creation research, particularly the dating of Noah's flood and ultimately creation.

Ussher's Biblical Chronology

Irish Archbishop James Ussher (1581-1656) did serious work in Genesis chapters 5 and 11 to compile genealogical chronologies that were widely accepted in his day. Scientists such as Isaac Newton believed in Ussher's work, which was even published for years in the margins of the King James Version of the Bible, starting in 1701. Ussher placed the date of Noah's flood at 2350 B.C. and creation at 4004 B.C. Other Biblical scholars have researched dates for the flood ranging from 3398 B.C. to 2348 B.C. and creation between 3760 B.C. and 5555 B.C. Of course, "modern" evolutionists have held these dates up for ridicule, but the Bristlecone pine research may well verify them.

Flood and Creation Dating the oldest Bristlecone pines now living quite possibly have been growing since right after the flood. With "Methuselah" going back to around 2600 B.C. according to Dr. Ferguson, this becomes a very real possibility. The actual date may be adjusted for extremely wet years which occurred in the past, as shown by the numerous dry lakes in the desert regions of eastern California and Nevada. Experiments show the trees can grow more than one ring in unusual seasons. Some experiments have even suggested that many periods of time could have been characterized by the growth of one extra ring every one to four years, with evidence in controlled laboratory situations showing extra ring growth tied to short drought periods. These varied conditions could allow a slightly more recent date which may even closely match Ussher's date of 2350 B.C.

Even without adjustment, the living Bristlecones do fit well within the range of dates for the flood provided by numerous Biblical scholars. However, some recent debate concerning the record of rings found in the dead wood has led to proposals of much older dates for the flood, and ultimately creation. Flood dates in the range of 10,000 to 15,000 years before present have been suggested, but it could be possible that the preserved dead wood grew in the period before the flood. Only the living trees by strict necessity need date from the time of the flood or more recent times. In that case, the pre-flood trees would have to remain in the same vicinity probably anchored as stumps, for the period of around a year until the flood waters receded. The ring-growth record from the pre-flood period would also have to be as extensive as it is in the current trees in the forest. If the dead wood was still viable for sprigs and seeds, this would explain the continued existence of the Bristlecone pine forest in the same location.

Dead wood, both on the trees and on the ground, have provided a tree-ring record going back to proposed dates of around 6800 B.C. or earlier. This causes a little bit more problem for the Ussher dating, but it is not insurmountable. The same argument for multiple ring growth in wet years could hold, and even the possible pre-flood greenhouse environment that may have existed on earth may have been a factor. Also, creation had to involve some superficial appearance of earth history. Trees were likely created with tree-rings already in place. Rocks would likely have yielded old dates by the faulty radio-isotope methods in use today. Even man and animals did not appear as infants. This is known as the "Appearance of Age Theory." Even with only minor adjustments in the growth-ring-to-year correlation, most creation scientists would feel quite comfortable with a resulting date of creation in the 6000-7000 B.C. range.

Did God preserve the Bristlecone pines, with their unique combination of living and dead wood, as a record of recent creation? We don't know for sure, but dendrochronology is certainly a science that provides facts which evolutionists do not care to publicize.  
 
 

#4. The World's Tiniest Motor  by Jonathan Sarfati

Man-made motors are complex designs, because they need many parts working together to function. Although miniaturised motors would be very useful, e.g. for keeping our arteries clear and our blood clean, the number of parts makes it difficult to make them below a certain size. But ingenious scientists are making them smaller all the time.

However the design in living organisms has far exceeded our most painstaking efforts. Bacteria propel themselves using flagella, filaments propelled by a true rotary motor. This motor is only the size of a virus, thus far smaller than anything man-made. Yet it can rotate at over 1000 times per second.

But even this impressively tiny motor is not the tiniest in God's creation. Living cells have many molecules that are mini-machines and chemical factories enzymes. One enzyme has been shown to spin 'like a motor' to produce ATP, a chemical which is the 'energy currency' of life. The enzyme, which has nine protein components, is so tiny that 100,000 million million would fill the volume of a pinhead. This motor produces an immense torque (turning force) for its size it rotates a strand of another protein 100 times its own length. Also, when driving a heavy load, it probably changes to a lower gear, as any well-designed motor should.

One of the Nature articles was appropriately entitled 'Real Engines of Creation'. Unfortunately, despite the evidence for exquisite design, many scientists (including the editor of Nature) still have a blind faith that mutations and natural selection could build such machines.

The famous British evolutionist (and communist) J.B.S. Haldane claimed in 1949 that evolution could never produce 'various mechanisms, such as the wheel and magnet, which would be useless till fairly perfect.' Therefore such machines in organisms would, in his opinion, prove evolution false. These molecular motors have indeed fulfilled one of Haldane's criteria. Also, turtles which use magnetic sensors for navigation fulfill Haldane's other criterion . I wonder whether Haldane would have had a change of heart if he had been alive to see these discoveries ...

Sources

Nature 386(6622):ix, 217-219, 299-302, March 20, 1997

Science News 151(12):173, March 22, 1997.

Technical Notes:

'Invasion of the micromachines', New Scientist 150(2036):28-33, 29 June 1996.

For a good description, see M. Behe, Darwin's Black Box, The Free Press, NY, 1996, pp. 69-73, available from Answers in Genesis ministries group.

This motor measures about 40 nm across and 60 nm high ( 1 nm = 10-9 m).

The enzyme is F1-ATPase, a subunit of a larger enzyme, ATP synthase.

ATP stands for adenosine triphosphate. It is a high energy compound, and releases this energy by losing a phosphate group and leaving ADP, adenosine diphosphate.

The F1-ATPase motor is a flattened sphere about 10 nm across by 8 nm high.

The filament is a protein called actin.

Is Evolution a Myth? A Debate between D. Dewar and L.M. Davies vs. J.B.S. Haldane, Watts & Co. Ltd / Paternoster Press, London, 1949, p. 90.

Addendum: Nobel Prize

The discoverers of this remarkable enzyme/motor have won a half share of the 1997 Nobel Prize for Chemistry. They are Paul Boyer of the University of California at Los Angeles and John Walker of the Medical Research Council's Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge. The other half of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry was won by Jens Skou of the University of Aarhus in Denmark. Forty years ago, he was the first to identify an enzyme that moves substances through cell membranes (in this case, sodium and potassium ions). This is a key function of all cells.

Source: D. Concar, 'Essential enzymes have earned their discoverers a Nobel prize', New Scientist 156(2105):14, 25 October 1997.
 
 

#5. Sugars from Space? Do they prove evolution? by Dr Jonathan Sarfati 8 January 2002

To a chemist, a sugar is not just that sweet crystal added to coffee and tea. Rather, sugars are one family of chemicals containing lots of hydroxyl groups (OH) attached to a carbon skeleton (polyols). Sugars are vital components of life, e.g. the 5-carbon (5C) sugars ribose and deoxyribose are part of the skeletons of our information storage molecules, RNA and DNA respectively. Ribose is also an essential component of the energy currency of life, adenosine triphosphate (ATP). The 6C sugar glucose is a basic energy source for plants and animals, and they are joined in chains to form the cellulose of plant cell walls, as well as the energy storage molecules starch (plants) and glycogen (animals). Common sugar, sucrose, found in sugar cane and to a lesser extent in sugar beet, is actually a combination of two 6C sugars, glucose and fructose.

The ultimate origin of sugars is a huge problem for those who believe abiogenesis, the idea that non-living chemicals evolved into living cells without any intelligent input (see Q&A: Origin of Life). Abiogenesis has been such a difficult problem for the materialistic world view that various antitheists, such as Eugenie Scott of the so-called National Center for Science Education; and Richard Hutton, the producer of the Evolution series shown on PBS(USA) and SBS(Australia); try not to answer tough questions about abiogenesis. Instead, they claim it is not part of evolution, which is simply not true, given its common name 'chemical evolution'. It has also been included as a part of the 'General Theory of Evolution', defined by the evolutionist Kerkut as 'the theory that all the living forms in the world have arisen from a single source which itself came from an inorganic form.'1

But according to some recent headlines, abiogenesis has virtually been solved by the discovery of sugars in meteorites. Supposedly this shows that sugars could be produced in space, then rained down on Earth to be incorporated into the first organisms. But what is the correct story?

What was found?

Researchers led by Dr George Cooper of the NASA Ames Research Center in California analysed the much-studied Murchison meteorite and the less-well-known Murray meteorite.2,3 Both are a type of meteorite called carbonaceous chondrites, because they contain small nodules called chondrules. They are claimed to be the most primitive objects in the solar system, and the most likely to have organic (carbon-containing) molecules. They used a reliable technique called gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) to detect the different molecules, in the form of compounds with large silicon/carbon groups. They also studied the ratios of carbon and hydrogen isotopes, i.e. different forms of the same element. They found that they were enriched in the heavier isotopes 13C and 2H, which is consistent with an extraterrestrial origin for most of the molecules, rather than contamination from Earth.

They found evidence of lots of different chemicals with names unfamiliar to non-chemists, but in extremely tiny amounts. In fact, there was only one proper sugar found, and this contained only three carbon atoms. They also found a number of related compounds, the most abundant being the sugar alcohols, ethylene glycol (2C, better known as antifreeze), and glycerol (3C), but even glycerol made up only about 0.001% of the mass, and the other compounds were far less abundant. There were none of the sugars familiar to most people.4 The fact that these sugars are not common in living organisms is good evidence against biological contamination from Earth.

The researchers have proposed several possible ways these compounds could have been produced, including the 'formose reaction' starting from formaldehyde, which itself might have been formed from carbon monoxide and hydrogen.

The real science stops here with the last section, and as always, creationists dispute no observations made by evolutionists; i.e., we agree that the meteorite does contain organic compounds, probably of extraterrestrial origin. The difference is how we interpret the observations.

What should we think?

The 'Big picture'

The most important point to remember, more important than the chemistry, is that both creationists and evolutionists have biases. For the people who performed the research, the Nature editors, and the journalists who reported the results, the question was not 'Did life evolve from non-life?' Neither were they trying to find evidence to support either 'yes' or 'no'. Rather, before even adducing the evidence, they have already made up their minds that the answer is 'yes'-somewhat along these lines:

'Well, of course life evolved from non-life, because we're here! ?What's that you suggest ?that life may have been designed? You just don't understand the rules of science. A designer is not part of science, even if the evidence supports that, as Dr Scott Todd pointed out. As Dr Richard Lewontin said, we must only allow materialistic explanations, because we can't allow "a divine foot in the door".'

This faith commitment has been noticed even by non-creationists such as the information theorist Dr Hubert Yockey, as shown by this quote:

Research on the origin of life seems to be unique in that the conclusion has already been authoritatively accepted ?. What remains to be done is to find the scenarios which describe the detailed mechanisms and processes by which this happened. One must conclude that, contrary to the established and current wisdom a scenario describing the genesis of life on earth by chance and natural causes which can be accepted on the basis of fact and not faith has not yet been written.?

This bias produces much wishful thinking, where every trace of organic molecules found is taken as evidence for chemical evolution. As will be shown below, this is contradicted by science. The wishful thinking occurs not only in the popular media, but also in the Nature Science Update commentary:

'The findings therefore support a growing realization that, even in the frozen depths of space, lifeless chemistry can arrange the elements into molecular forms well along the road to primitive life.'5

Even the acting director of astrobiology and space research at Ames, Kenneth Souza claimed:

'This discovery shows that it's highly likely organic synthesis critical to life has gone on throughout the universe. Then, on Earth, since the other critical elements were in place, life could blossom.'6

But while Cooper himself was enthusiastic overall, he did sound a note of caution about the research:

'What we found could just be interesting space chemistry, and polyols could be just relatives of the compounds that actually gave rise to early life.'6

I agree that it was 'interesting space chemistry', and actually have no problem with the researchers' suggested production mechanisms such as the formose reaction, but this doesn't mean that it was relevant to chemical evolution. Cooper concluded that more research was needed to learn whether this research was significant.6

Scientific problems

One of the key evidences against contamination, the presence of non-biological sugars and their relatives, also seems like good evidence against chemical evolution. That is, that natural processes tend to produce gunk with little relevance to life.

The amounts of these chemicals were tiny-far too low to contribute to biological processes. So this can also be interpreted as evidence against chemical evolution, by showing that under truly natural conditions (as opposed to unrealistic laboratory simulations), only trace amounts of these compounds are formed.

The wide variety of compounds in itself counts as evidence against chemical evolution. Most of the alleged prebiotic simulations use pure compounds, and even then, the results are meagre, so how much worse would they be with the contaminated gunk produced in the real world?

Sugars are very unstable, and easily decompose or react with other chemicals. This counts against any proposed mechanism to concentrate them to useable proportions. See Origin of Life: Instability of building blocks.

Living things require homochiral sugars, i.e. with the same 'handedness', but these ones would not have been. See Origin of Life: The Chirality Problem.

Even under highly artificial conditions, the result of intelligent investigator interference, there is no plausible method of making the sugar ribose join to some of the essential building blocks needed to make DNA or RNA, let alone into RNA or DNA themselves. Instead, the tendency is for long molecules to break down into their building blocks. See Origin of Life: The Polymerization Problem and The RNA World: A Critique.

Even DNA or RNA by themselves would not be life, since it's not enough to just join the bases ('letters') together, but the sequence of the letters must consitute meaningful information. The information depends on the letter sequence and this sequence is not a function of the chemistry of the letters. Information: A modern scientific design argument.

Even this letter sequence would be meaningless without elaborate decoding machinery to translate this into amino acid sequences. I.e. the DNA stores the instruction code to formthe enzymes and structural proteins needed for life. Unless the decoding machinery already existed, those instructions can never be read. Similarly, this article would be useless to a non-English-speaker, who lacks knowledge of the code of the English language to convert alphabetical letter sequences into concepts in the mind (information). See Self-Replicating Enzymes?.

Conclusion

Once again, this teaches us that we shouldn't rely on pro-evolution newspaper headlines. As always, even if they have reported the scientific observations correctly, the observations must be interpreted. As shown, it is more plausible to interpret them in a Biblical creationist framework and apply well-attested chemical principles. The result is that not only do the observations provide no support for chemical evolution, they are actually further evidence that chemical evolution is based on blind faith rather than fact.

References

1. Kerkut, G.A., Implications of Evolution, Pergamon, Oxford, UK, p. 157, 1960. He continued: 'the evidence which supports this is not sufficiently strong to allow us to consider it as anything more than a working hypothesis.'

2. Cooper, G. et al., Carbonaceous meteorites as a source of sugar-related organic compounds for the early Earth, Nature 414(6866):879-883, 2001.

3. Sephton, M.A., Life's sweet beginnings [perspective on Ref. 2], Nature 414(6866):857-859, 2001.

4. For those trained in chemistry, they found a number of sugars and other types of polyols, e.g. sugar acids and sugar alcohols. The difference is that sugars proper are polyhydroxy aldehydes or ketones, while alcohols have all hydroxyl groups, and acids have a carboxyl group. In fact there was only one sugar proper, dihydroxyacetone (3C). The most common compounds were the sugar alcohols ethylene glycol, and glycerol (3C). The amounts were minuscule, with only 160 nmol/g of glycerol. But even this tiny amount is more than twice that of the most abundant amino acid found in the Murchison meteorite. The 4C sugar alcohols erythritol and threitol were only 1% as abundant as glycerol. The 5C sugar alcohols such as ribitol and its isomers were even less abundant, while the 6Cs weren't actually seen but the researchers claim they might have been present in bound form. Sugar acids were also found, with the 3C glyceric acid about half as abundant as glycerol, and again the higher-C acids far less abundant, but more so than their corresponding alcohols. Some deoxy sugar acids were found, where a hydroxyl group is replaced by a hydrogen. Deoxyribose is the most significant deoxy sugar proper, since it's a component of DNA.

5. Ball, P., Shooting stars sugar coated: Meteorites could have sweetened the earliest life [commentary on Ref. 2] ,Nature Science Update, 20 December 2001.

6. NASA Scientist Finds Some Meteorites not Sugar-free, 19 December 2001.
 
 

#6. Where were you?  by James Wanliss

Where were you?

Our age is one of great doubt. Things that before were considered fact are now relegated to the quaint (or otherwise) junk pile of myth and fantasy. The churches of the humanists, namely the public schools, preach a gospel of naturalism as the only sure guide to truth and knowing (gnosis). This naturalism is baptised, sanctified, and sold as science, falsely so called (1). Of course, the scientific method is in no way synonymous with naturalism - an anti-Christian philosophy which denies the existence of the supernatural and which acknowledges only natural elements and material existence. The enormous attainments of the scientific method are claimed as victories for the humanist philosophy, and propagated as such through the secular media and places of learning. The irony is monumental: God creates man and provides the tools and blessings requisite for dominion; man exercises these tools and upon experiencing success declares that this proves the Bible is wrong and God does not exist. It is a great injustice that the potency of the scientific method is used by anti-Christian philosophers to shake the fist at God.

When the apparent social and cultural impotence and irrelevance of the Christian Church is observed it serves only to confirm in the mind of the unbeliever that the Bible is not all that it claims to be. It is certainly not, in their mind, the inspired Word of God, and is most certainly a fallible document. Science, however, is a surer guide to truth. When there are places where the Bible and modern science collide, the veracity of the Scriptures is usually perceived to be the sore loser. We are currently required to admit that God did not create the world in six days, but rather six long periods of time. That man has existed on earth for more than one million years, rather than a few thousand years. That the flood of Noah was not global but only a local inundation caused by the breach of a dam in Asia. That God did not create a complete and "good" cosmos, but that the cosmos has gone through cycles of creation and annihilation; the latest creation being more than fifteen billion years ago. We are also required to admit that man is the descendant of whales, pond scum, and an assortment of other interesting beasts. Never mind the unbeliever, this is enough to cause the Christian believer to entertain serious doubts in the veracity of the Bible. Is it really the Good Book, the very Word of God; or is it merely a collection of myth and idle fancy interspersed with some generally accepted truths?

The fawning reverence and homage many theologians pay to certain dogmas of modern science still further confirm that this book is just so much silly putty to be moulded. As just one example from an innumerable multitude witness Donald MacLeod, Principal of the Free Church of Scotland Theological College, an extremely capable, well-read, and esteemed theologian:  "But I know enough to be satisfied that the idea that the universe is 15 billion years old is as well established as Newton's Law of Gravity, Einstein's Theories of Relativity and Heysenberg's Uncertainty Principle."(2) Professor MacLeod is apparently an easy man to satisfy, because none of what he has stated is particularly compelling. That the universe is 15 billion years old is beyond the ken of hard science, and requires extrapolations of a type far beyond what scientific faith can ever demand or require. Untestable speculations, while interesting, are not in the realm of hard science, nor are extrapolation far beyond the range of actual experiment. Notwithstanding all the religious fanaticism, that the cosmos is 15 billion years old is simply a guess, and not something that any scientist has ever measured or indeed can measure. The facts have been measured; the interpretation of those facts is most certainly not unique, and do not require eons upon eons. And in the absence of a present ability to perform an experiment to evolve the world along the hypothetical lines, or to time-travel to the moment of creation, the Biblical chronology ought to be preferred. Although imagination is important, in science it is always dangerous to substitute imagination for experience, because anything imaginable might be true. The universe might have been created five minutes ago, or it might not have been created at all - it might be a bad dream descended from a piece of undigested blue cheese. Speculation in accord with known data is a valid part of science, but particularly when these speculations cannot be proven, one ought to be careful to reserve judgment, especially if a more perfect source of fact, such as the Bible, is available to dispel the fogs of uncertainty.

Nevertheless our fashionable teacher of Bible teachers is satisfied that "the idea that the universe is 15 billion years old is as well established as Newton's Law of Gravity." But Newton's law of gravity is demonstrably false, and has long been superseded by Einstein's general theory. "Whenever the predictions of Einstein have been found to differ from the ideas of Newtonian mechanics, Nature has chosen Einstein."(3) Even Einstein's theories are not so sacrosanct as the professor supposes. Einstein's theories of relativity are twofold - the Special theory, and the more elegant General theory. In order to "understand" the special theory one must abandon physical reasoning in favour of mathematical formalism. There are compelling logical reasons to cause one to suspect that the theories are built on sand (4). Furthermore, at least one of its basic assumptions is apparently wrong. It is interesting to see the scientific currents threatening the dogma of the constancy of the speed of light (5,6,7,8). The general relativity with its twisted and warped geometries is impossible to imagine, though the mathematics is very challenging, elegant and lovely; it rests on the same sands, and may require massive revision. And Heisenberg is not spelt with a 'y'. The Germans would be furious! I would be remiss to fail to mention that while having faith, Heisenberg never came to make sense of Einstein's theories (9). And Einstein in turn rejected the possibility that Heisenberg's quantum mechanics described reality. In commenting on the theory, he wrote, "...that [God] would choose to play dice with the world...is something I cannot believe for a single moment."(10) That our theology professors are so willing to have faith in such enchanting science is scary. One can only hope that they approach the study of the Bible with a more critical mindset.

The Christian Church is not taken seriously by the world because it does not take it's own standards seriously. The sheep are left perplexed as the shepherds behave like clowns animated by the scientific winds of change. The irony of it all is that our professional theologians don't receive tenure from the world. Perhaps they are trying to demonstrate to the sheep their dexterous manipulations of the Word of God; the only ones that might be impressed are some of the sheep. The world is certainly not impressed as the church leaders nimbly manufacture the illusion of a poodle from a balloon and so much hot air. But the Word of God does not have the same elastic properties; it makes foolish the worldly wisdom. "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away" (Matthew 24:35). It is professors in theological colleges and the ministers they train who tend to lead the disillusioned and cowed sheep to the shrines of scientism. May it not be so!

The idea that the cosmos is ancient is not new - Aristotle asserted the eternity of the world, of whom Calvin wrote, "...a man of genius and learning...employed his naturally acute powers of mind to extinguish all light."(11) Some modern hypotheses return to this idea, but with the twist that the cosmos goes through cycles of existence and annihilation. The Scriptural account certainly does not require or account for such vast tracts of time, or any cosmic bounce hypothesis with successive recreations. The scientific method is limited and fallible. Nevertheless, when applied within its proper realm it has been demonstrated to be a great and valuable tool of dominion. It is doubtless useless to profess to know what one does not know, but this is precisely what many scientists are doing in proclaiming a cosmos that is 15 billion years into its latest reincarnation. Whereas the scientific method is fallible, but useful, the Word of God is infallible, and it is a standard for which we ought to be grateful, realising that it can never be subservient to mere creations of men. Thankfully the scientific method is easy to comprehend - one does not need the Ph.D to understand the technique, even if the mathematics and reasoning do sometimes require the Ph.D. If it is not observable, repeatable, measurable, capable of being falsified, then a hypothesis is not strictly scientific. It has marched from the realm of objective measurement to the land of philosophy, which is sometimes stranger than fiction. Why then should we accord it the same, or greater, respect than the Bible? Philosophy and speculation have their place, but let us not seek to reinterpret Scripture because of scientific speculations based on unobservables.

The rub really comes when philosophies are perceived to be in contradiction with the Word of God. In quantum mechanics and relativity we find it acceptable to have faith in contradictory statements (!), but what about this Bible now? Even scientists hold that the Bible and these philosophies, such as the billions of years universe, cannot both be true simultaneously. It is apparently acceptable to believe nonsense in science, but not elsewhere. Rather than becoming fearful that Scripture must needs bow under the accumulated weight of scientific speculation, we would hope that our teachers would uphold the plain and historic teaching of Scripture, and learn to distinguish between genuine observations of reality, and the rolling of the bones, albeit by scientists. God's Word is so firmly established that not even heaven and earth can move it. Accordingly we ought not to be overly excited at the demands of supposed scientific discoveries, since the same people who formerly advanced them may conceivably overthrow these discoveries the following day. Since the Word of God does not change, the perceived need to find some way to mould the Word to the changing hypothesis is quite wrongheaded. The world already thinks we and our professional teachers are fools; the danger is that we begin to lose faith in our teachers, and in the Book. Dr. Dabney writes about this danger: "And now, the divines tell us, they were mistaken a second time as to what the Bible intended to teach about it; but they are certain they have it right at last. So a third exposition is advanced. It has been this short-sighted folly, more than any real contradiction between the Bible and science, which has caused men to doubt the authority of divine inspiration, and to despise it's professed expounders."(12)

All truth springs from God and is internally self-consistent. That is, in any field of knowledge, if one proposition contradicts another, both cannot be true. The Lord Jesus applied a similar reasoning when he was accused of being demon possessed: "How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself, and is divided, he cannot stand, but has an end. No one can enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man, and then he will plunder his house" (Mark 3:23-27). Something cannot be true and false - it is either true or it is false. Satan cannot cast out Satan.

It is dangerous and unnecessary to require that Scripture be sifted through the teeth of supposed scientific 'facts'. It is dangerous because even if all the scientific theories presently employed were effective handmaids of revelation, ungodly scientists will invent philosophies that attempt to rape and murder the Word of God. "Professing to be wise, they became fools and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image." Unsaved man is "futile in [his] thoughts" and "suppress[es] the truth" (Romans 1:22,23). It is God who creates man and gives him all the intellectual tools for dominion, including the scientific method. If man properly exercises these tools, then there can be no contradiction with the revelation. We can cheerfully encourage such studies, all the while maintaining that scientific theory and hypothesis do not equal proof. I maintain that one unproven, and unprovable hypothesis is that the cosmos is some 15 billion years old. This dogma - and it is a dogma these days - sets itself in opposition to the plain Word of God. The Scriptures contain plain statements, inferences, deductions and implications that the entire cosmos was created in six literal days some thousands of years ago. "Our philosophy is to receive in simplicity what the Scripture shows us."(13)

There are many places in Scripture that speak of things in metaphoric terms. Often a language is used which is popular rather than scientifically framed. This does not present a problem because the Scriptures were never intended to be a scientific textbook. Thus when we learn that the earth is round we are not perplexed by Scriptures that speak of the earth having corners. The principles of hermeneutics easily allow that the earth is round. When a proper exegesis of the Scripture has occurred, there must be an agreement with the observed reality, for truth is self-consistent. However there are times when a proper exegesis cannot be reconciled with certain scientific hypotheses. And if the hypotheses is insisted upon then something must yield - either the Scripture or the scientific hypothesis. Unfortunately without exception all public education systems hold that scientific hypotheses are superior to the teachings of Scripture. If Scripture is in one place made to bow to the supposed authority of a scientific hypothesis, than why not elsewhere? If Scripture is wrong in one place, then it is not reasonable to trust its authority in other places. A science that is true will be a handmaid of the Scriptures, not its mistress.

Once again Dr. Dabney writes words of wisdom: "Let us fully concede that the Bible has been often misinterpreted, and that thus its infallibility has been cited to sustain what God never meant it to sustain; that its correct exposition may, especially in certain parts of it, require great patience, caution, and modesty; and that it is wrong to claim its teachings as authoritative on any point, unless we have ascertained the true meaning of the text, beyond a peradventure, by the just application of its own laws of exposition. But still, the Bible must be held to have its own ascertainable and valid laws of exposition; and its teachings, when duly ascertained, must be absolutely authoritative in all their parts, without waiting on or deferring to any conclusion of human science whatsoever; otherwise it is practically no Bible; it is no "rule of the faith" for a human soul."(14)

Liberal theologians tell us that when Moses seems to say that God created our world out of nothing and organized it, the meaning is that God used a 'big bang' to make something out of nothing. That when Moses seems to say the Creation occurred about six thousand years ago, the meaning is that the cosmos long preceded our earth, and that the earth evolved from our sun about 5 billion years ago. That when Moses seems to say God created the contents of the universe after He created the earth, and all in six days, the meaning is that the sun existed prior to the earth and provided the energy that God miraculously use to evolve life from simple forms up to man. If we honestly apply sound principles of hermeneutics we see that Genesis 1 allows no such painful contortions. Nor should we be sloth to defend these doctrines of Creation, for if these are not true then the Bible is built on sand. The statements of Genesis 1 are not introduced for the sake of teaching the physical second causes employed by God, though they touch upon them. In Genesis 1 we have unfolded the foundation of the whole doctrine of man's relation to his Creator. Our forefathers concluded from a study of the Scriptures that the cosmos was young, no more than a few thousand years old. This flew in the face of the Greek cosmogonies that postulated an ancient or eternally existent Cosmos. The Greek cosmology was long rejected and there was no longer a quarrel. Science and the Bible found relative consistency regarding the age of the earth; then came Hutton and Lyell.

Sir Charles Lyell(15) was the one who used and publicised James Hutton's 'principle of uniformitarianism' (16), which states that "the processes that have shaped the earth through geologic time are the same as those observable today." Thus by observing the present time scale of processes and using the idea of uniformitarianism, geologists came to recognise that rocks are very old, and the earth is much older. Men of the Church, such as Dr. Chalmers, of the Free Church of Scotland, were quick to jump on the bandwagon, and accepted the professed truth of uniformitarianism, despite having a profound respect and understanding of the scientific method. True scientists, according to Chalmers, "...give you positive opinion only when they have indisputable proof; but when they have no such proof, they have no such opinion. The single principle of their respect to truth, secures their homage for every one position where the evidence of truth is present, and at the same time begets an entire diffidence about every one position from which this evidence is disjoined."(17) The evidence for Hutton's uniformitarianism is, to say the least, severely disjoined and disputable, thus disqualifying it from the realm of experimental science, except perhaps in the case of the recent past which has been subject to actual observation. Prior to the publishing of Lyell's great work, but some time after Hutton's publication, with which he was familiar, Chalmers proposed the idea that a time gap existed between "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" and "Now the earth was formless and void" (Genesis 2:1,2). His reasons for proposing this were not theological, but appear to have been an attempt to accommodate the emerging uniformitarian views of long geologic time. As long a time as anyone could wish for could be inserted between verses 1 and 2, while simultaneously maintaining a literal interpretation of the six days of creation. The problem with this theory is that it is purely theological speculation, brought in purely because of the supposed requirements of science. The absence of any Biblical evidence or allusion to this idea should warn one off idle speculation. Neither was it satisfying to the naturalist, who desired vast tracts of time, but also corpses. Chalmers obliged by speculating that the original earth (verse 1) was populated by mankind and all manner of flora and fauna, but that it was destroyed soon after the fall of Lucifer, thus providing the fossilised corpses and a world ready for God to have another try at creation. The entanglements of this theory become more and more curious the further they are followed. This is all very interesting, but not necessary or edifying!

It is so sad that theologians and others would feel the need to resort to such speculation in order to satisfy some perceived requirement of science. The evidence in the rocks was actually contrary to the hypothesis of Hutton and Lyell, though it might not appear so on a superficial level. As an aside, it should be mentioned that the scientists definitively reject Chalmers' theory. I should also mention that our Professor MacLeod writes, "I can't recall a single Scottish theologian of the last 200 years who believed in a literal six-day creation. All accepted the conclusions of geology and took them into account in their attempts to interpret the Book of Genesis."(18) It is quite startling that almost immediately after writing Chalmers' name the Professor claims he "can't recall" that Chalmers was one of those Scottish theologians who believed in a six-day creation. For despite his interesting gap theory, he most certainly was a six-day creationist. Besides applauding Chalmers' passion for free trade Hugh Miller, a geologist contemporary with Darwin, rejected Chalmers' gap theory because its geology included a literal six-day creation. It will be useful to quote Miller at length for he defines the gap theory and also shows that pronouncements of modern theologians ought sometimes to be taken with a pile of salt. Miller writes, "[The Gap Theory] teaches, and teaches truly, that between the first act of creation, which evoked out of the previous nothing the matter of the heavens and earth, and the first act of the first day's work recorded in Genesis, periods of vast duration may have intervened; but further, it insists that the days themselves were but natural days of twenty-four hours each; and that, ere they began, the earth, though mayhap in the previous period a fair residence of life, had become void and formless, and the sun, moon, and stars, though mayhap they had before given light, had been, at least in relation to our planet, temporarily extinguished. In short, while it teaches that the successive creations of the geologist may all have found ample room in the period preceding that creation to which man belongs, it teaches also that the record in Genesis bears reference to but the existing creation, and that there lay between it and the preceding ones a chaotic period of death and darkness. The scheme propounded by the late Dr. Pye Smith, and since adopted by several writers, differs from that of Chalmers in but one circumstance, though an important one. Dr. Smith held, with the great northern divine, that the Mosaic days were natural days; that they were preceded by a chaotic period; and that the work done in them related to but that last of the creations to which the human species belongs."(19)

Miller and the other scientists rejected the theory of the theologian, Dr. Chalmers. This leaves us wondering whether the theologian, were he alive to recant, would apologise and try to find a new scheme to explain how the Scripture is in accord with the newer geology. Let's return again to the evidence. Stephen Jay Gould writes: "Lyell relied upon true bits of cunning to establish his uniformitarian view as the only true geology. Lyell imposed his imagination on the evidence."(19) This means that we once again require a new explanation and the theologians will have to scramble if they want to be cutting-edge. Any theological rendition will, however, be required to retain elements of previous theories as well as eons of time, because another popular dogma is that biological evolution requires billions of years of time in order to happen. Once remove the eons of time, and faith in fairy tales grows thin, which is probably why naturalistic scientists are so adamant about it. Uniformitarianism is under scientific siege these days, but the vast timescales it introduced remain sacrosanct. The believer in a six-day creation remains bemused at all the scampering about.

It is a dangerous game theologians play with the Bible and its followers when they undermine, unconsciously or otherwise, any portion of the Scripture. This is especially true in the case of theories in competition with the Biblical record. Theologians may not recognise the folly, but Lyell did: "If we don't irritate, which I fear that we may...we shall carry all with us. If you don't triumph over them, but compliment the liberality and candour of the present age, the bishops and enlightened saints will join us in despising both the ancient and modern physico-theologians. ... I conceived the idea five or six years ago, that if ever the Mosaic record of geology could be set down without giving offence, it would be in an historical sketch. ...let them feel it, and point the moral." (21)

I believe that the professional churchmen have been misled due partially to a misunderstanding of the nature and character of science. This is not due to any lack of intelligence, but perhaps because of the way in which scientists have presented their philosophy. The worst and most reckless speculations are presented to the general public as if they were fact. Naturalism is presented as if it were the only and final arbiter of truth. But let us once speculate that the earth is 4.6 billion years old. How could we prove it? We could not use the Bible, except in a speculative sense. The history of redemption entails only a few thousand years from the creation of Adam to the present. This we know for sure. We could only speculate regarding gaps in time between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. Scientifically speaking speculation is also all that is possible. In fact, it is even worse for the scientific case. A theory only qualifies as hard science if it is falsifiable by scientific study (experiment, observation).

"The first test, then, of whether a theory is scientific or not lies not in the subject matter of the theory at all, but in the possibility of its proof or disproof. "(22) The theory that the earth is 4.6 billion years old, is not, strictly speaking, scientific, even though its subject matter (geology, cosmology) has the appearance of being highly scientific. The fact that these events occurred once, at a unique point in time, means that any experiment done cannot falsify that claim. We are not capable of doing an experiment that can disprove the theory - hence the theory is not scientific, but rather a philosophical speculation. Similarly, a theory claiming the earth is young is not falsifiable, even if it is capable of explaining the observations. The sheer fact that we were not there to observe and experiment puts these things beyond the realm of science. We need to rely on something more certain, and we do have this source: the Bible. The naturalistic philosopher rejects this as a source of authority, and prefers speculative fairy tales. We need to be aware of the real, but not widely published, limits of true science, and challenge those who claim an authority for science which God claims is His alone - says God to Job, "Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?"

  References

1. Dingle, H., Science and the Unobservable, in The Scientific Adventure, Pitman and Sons, 1952, p.215.

2. MacLeod, Donald, Footnotes, West Highland Free Press, 18 April 1997.

3. Feynman, Richard, quoted in Heisenberg probably slept here, Brennan, R.P., John Wiley, 1997, p.73.

4. Dingle, H., Science at the Crossroads, Martin Brian and O'Keefe, London, 1972.

5. Setterfield, Barry, The Atomic Constants, Light and Time, Stanford Research International,

6. Albrecht, A. and J. Magueijo, A time varying speed of light as a solution to cosmological puzzles, Phys. Rev. D 59, 0434516, 1999.

7. Barrow, J.D. and J. Magueijo, Solving the flatness and quasi-flatness problems in Brans-Dicke cosmologies with a varying light speed, Phys. Lett. B447, 246, 1999.

8. Is nothing sacred?, The New Scientist Magazine, 163, 2196, p.28, 24 July 1999.

9. "There was a story about the quantum theorist Werner Heisenberg, on his deathbed, declaring that he will have two questions for God: why relativity, and why turbulence. Heisenberg says, "I really think He may have an answer to the first question."", quoted in Gleick, James, Chaos, Penguin Books, 1987, p.121.

10. Einstein, Albert, quoted in The expanded quotable Einstein, (ed.) A. Calaprice, Princeton University Press, 2000, p.231.   Einstein referred to the quantum mechanics as "real black magic calculus." (referenced in The Quantum Dice, L I Ponomarev, 1993, IOP, ISBN 0750302518).

11. Calvin, J., quoted in Calvins Wisdom, (ed.) J. Graham Miller, Banner of Truth Trust, 1992, p.243.

12. Dabney, R.L., Geology and the Bible, in Discussions, Vol. III, Ross House Books, 1980 (1892), p.94.

13. Calvin, ibid. p.243.

14. Dabney, ibid. p.98.

15. Lyell, Charles, Principles of Geology, 1830.

16. Hutton, James, Theory of the Earth with Proof and Illustration, 1785.

17. Chalmers, Thomas, The Modesty of True Science, in A series of discourses on the Christian Revelation viewed in connection with the modern astronomy, The American Tract Society, New York, 1817, pp. 63, 64.

18. MacLeod, ibid.

19. Miller, Hugh, The Two Records, Mosaic and Geological, in The Testimony of the Rocks, Edinburgh, 1870, pp. 109, 110.

20. Gould, Stephen Jay, Ever since Darwin, New York, Norton, 1977, pp.149,150.

21. Lyell, Charles, in (ed.) Mrs. Charles Lyell, Life, Letters, and Journal of Charles Lyell, London, John Murray, 1881, pp.270,271.

22. Andrews, E.H., The biblical and philosophical case for special creation, in God, Science and Evolution, Evangelical Press, 1985, p.87.

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  Dr. Wanliss, formerly a Canadian Space Agency Research Scientist. He worked in the Space Weather program, and taught Physics at the University of Alberta.

Dr. James Wanliss currently is a physics professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.  Most recently he has taught courses in classical mechanics, and space physics.  His current research focuses on magnetospheric substorms and other space weather phenomena. He is also an ordained Presbyterian Ruling Elder.