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Sunday, August 16, 2009

My thoughts on the defense of YEC

First, I must express my appreciation for Bethyada's willingness to put up. Well done. It is all too rare in an Internet filled with people eager to express an opinion yet unwilling to actually make an actual case for what they believe. I think this is to be commended in anyone, regardless of how little I agree with them, and I would be pleased if this became a place where arguments for a wide variety of opinions were subjected to critical assault from all sides.

My vote on the matter would probably have been most precisely expressed as a 2.5, roughly between "Reasonably presented and some aspects were thought-provoking" and "Reasonably presented but completely unconvincing". I am a Creationist only in the broad sense, by which I mean that while I am a Christian who believes in creation by intelligence rather than raw time+chance, I also believe the historical truth of the origins of Man and the Earth to be significantly stranger and less compehensible than either the Biblical literalists or the abiogenesis advocates imagine. I should point out that I have virtually no idea of what form that stranger and incomprehensible truth actually takes, but it renders me a virtual agnostic on the general issue of origins.

While I put great credence in documentary evidence, I think much of the YEC case is based on a forced literalism that is absent from most historical readings of the Bible or other historical documents. I am no more concerned about the literal seven days than I am with determining what color the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was. In my opinion, those Christians and anti-Christians who impute great significance to belief in the specifics of the events recounted in the early chapters of Genesis are largely missing the essential points of Christianity. Since I am skeptical of the crude imprecision of secular scientists as they make wild assumptions about events they did not witness, it should surprise no one that I am equally skeptical of the attempts of the theologically inclined to impute very specific meanings to events neither they nor the author of Genesis witnessed either. And since we do not understand either God or His ways, there is absolutely no chance that we can reasonably hope to properly understand the information He has communicated to us through generations of men who did not understand it either. If the first generation Christians, many of whom were there and lived through the relevant events, saw the truth of Jesus Christ as though through a glass darkly, how much more obscure must the truth of Genesis be to those of us who live today?

As others have commented, Bethyada did a much better job of communicating what YEC was and what it was not than he did in actually making a case for it. While that was in line with his clearly stated intention, the title turned out to be somewhat of a misnomer as he did not spend much time on the defense that was previously indicated to be the subject. I also thought that more positive evidence in support of his position was in order; there was little to indicate any specific young age and one simply can't reach "less than 10,000 years" even upon proving "not 4.5 billion years". But, he did show that there are legitimate reasons to look with a skeptical eye upon the conclusions about the age of the Earth and the age of Man that are so flimsily supported by oft-contradictory sciences.

All in all, I thought it was a reasonable first effort and I expect that everyone will learn how to make continually more effective cases going forward. So, I'm pleased to give Bethyada the privilege to call out someone on a PUOSU at his discretion in the future. In the meantime, I would welcome suggestions on what the next topic should be and who should present it. I know there's at least one individual who is willing to post on Calvinism, which would parallel nicely with the coming continuation of the Omniderigent-Aprevistan discourse, (and I imagine that the PDF will be most attractively formatted), but perhaps there are others interested in different topics worth considering as well.

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