Saturday, June 03, 2017

A popular myth about Christianity and Young Earth Creationism

SP: -Every Christian was a YEC until just a couple hundred years ago. Dozens of Ussher type calculations have been performed and accepted broadly for nearly the entire Judaeo-Christian history, starting with the traditional Jewish calendar.

Only very recently when science proved religion was wrong did the notion of reinterpreting scripture come about.

Science disproved Christian doctrine, so Christianity changed its doctrine to be less incompatible with science.

VR: Nope, and St. Augustine is the classic counterexample. The idea that every Christian prior to Darwin thought Ussher was right is just nonsense. 


Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...

Aquinas had a theory similar to that of evolution. So did Darwin's grad father who was a Minister.

a bigger problem with that view is that it confuses Biblical inspiration with verbal plenary inerrency. The idea that the bible makes no mistakes and all literal and all true is modern; the church fathers n ever said it.

StardustyPsyche said...

OP "The idea that every Christian prior to Darwin thought Ussher was right is just nonsense. "
--This appears to conflate biological evolution with the age of the Earth.

Joe Hinman said...
" Aquinas had a theory similar to that of evolution"
--Again, separate from the age of the Earth, and also separate from the origin of the human species, as opposed to some general notion for other forms.

From another thread
"Victor Reppert said...
Stardusty's claim is that Christians, for the most part, before science came along, held to these positions based on the Bible, and science proved them wrong. The idea was that these guys, as Christians, rightly took those positions until science came along. Further, in this chronology, something essential to Christianity was as stake, and that those in more recent generations who rejected this are accepting a compromised Christianity.
June 03, 2017 1:29 PM"
--Indeed, the age of the Earth was nearly universally held to be about 6000 years prior to 2000AD from the earliest days of the Jewish calendar up to the advent of modern science among Jews and Christians.

Jews and Christians read the bible, totaled up the years and the events mentioned, and calculated a date for creation. Even people like Newton, Kepler, and Luther made such calculations. The early Catholic church did the same. Dozens of such calculations were made over centuries by members of all sorts of denominations.

Something very important to Christianity was indeed lost, the notion that one could read the bible and believe every word. Modern science forced Christians to abandon that idea.

Science proved religion wrong, so religion changed, and now Christians want to pretend that didn't happen.

Victor Reppert said...

The same argument could be made about atheism. Prior to the advent of the Big Bang theory, Christians all pretty much believed that the universe had a beginning, and atheists thought it had no beginning. Big Bang cosmology changed all that, but when it was first introduced it was fiercely opposed by atheist cosmologists like Fred Hoyle (who ironically became a theist in later years), because of the implied religious implications. On this matter, science proved atheism wrong, so atheism changed, and atheists want to pretend it didn't happen.

Victor Reppert said...

Also, you are ignoring a long history of allegorical interpretation, by people as orthodox as
Augustine and Aquinas.

Here is an explanation of allegorical method, by a writer who is mostly complaining about it.

The flowering of allegorical interpretation as applied to Scripture can be traced to Jews in Alexandria Egypt who were interested in accommodating the OT Scriptures to Greek philosophy as a tool for removing or reinterpreting what were considered embarrassing anthropomorphisms and immoralities in the OT.

So, Christians have historically found biblical difficulties. They were not all cheerful literalists before science came along.

The fact that Christians at one time were more inclined to be lead-footed literalists than I am isn't an embarrassment to Christianity, unless you can show that I as a Christian OUGHT to care about it. I've never been a fundamentalist, so the fact that many Christians have held something like fundamentalist positions on the Bible isn't an issue unless you've got an argument that I, if I am going to be a real Christian, ought to be a fundamentalist and a YEC defender.

World of Facts said...


I think you are right to point out that 'some' Atheists had to change their mind regarding the universe having a beginning, but it's not really as simple as you put it I think, because the Big Bang Theory is not telling removing many naturalistic scenarios that may or may not include a trues beginning of 'everything'. As we all know, the Big Bang is something we look at from today's point of view and extrapolating in the past, until a point where spacetime itself was all together, into a point so small that nothing makes sense anymore using our current models. Time as we know it becomes meaningless, causation is not well defined, and the universe may well have been spawned from some other thing we don't know of.

In short, let's not forget what LemaƮtre had to say when he thought of the then new theory of the Big Bang:

“As far as I see, such a theory [of the primeval atom] remains entirely outside any metaphysical or religious question. It leaves the materialist free to deny any transcendental being. He may keep, for the bottom of space-time, the same attitude of mind he has been able to adopt for events occurring in non-singular places in space-time. For the believer, it removes any attempt to familiarity with God, as were Laplace's chiquenaude or Jeans' finger. It is consonant with the wording of Isaiah speaking of the 'hidden god' hidden even in the beginning of the universe ... Science has not to surrender in face of the universe and when Pascal tries to infer the existence of God from the supposed infinitude of nature, we may think that he is looking in the wrong direction.”

Victor Reppert said...

But what I am responding to is the claim that Christians somehow had to give up something essential to Christianity by accepting an ancient earth. Actually many Christians, even in Darwin's time, had no difficulty whatsoever in doing so. If we use Stardusty's account of what it is to have one's position refuted, however, then atheists, who pretty much one and all thought there was an infinite past prior to the Big Bang theory coming along, were "refuted" by the Big Bang theory. He is claiming that real Christianity was refuted by the development of science, and the fact that Christians have changed their minds and rejected YEC means that all they have accepted is a revisionist account. If you use that logic, then atheism has indeed been refuted, since the Big Bang theory refutes historic atheism. But this isn't a huge problem for atheism, unless, of course, the Kalam Cosmological Argument works. But without further argumentation, an ancient earth is hardly damaging to Christianity, either.

World of Facts said...

Okk fair point. Then I guess we mostly agree that neither Atheism nor Theism (or Christianity specifically) was damaged by scientific discoveries, when it comes to their deepest philosophical positions.

StardustyPsyche said...

Victor Reppert said...

"On this matter, science proved atheism wrong, "
--Science is continually proving previous theories wrong, not atheism.

"so atheism changed,"
--The lack of belief in god is still the lack of belief in god. Science changes itself. Religion does not change science, but science changes religion.

" and atheists want to pretend it didn't happen."
--Who is pretending that science doesn't change itself?

The holy books are junk science, not science at all, and contain nothing that changes the science of the universe.

Science, on the other hand, forces holy book contents to be reinterpreted. What used to be true, is no longer true, only a fable told for supposed educational value.

This is a one way street. Religion bends to science. Science does not bend to religion.

June 05, 2017 12:47 AM