Science in Christian Perspective
Letter to the Editor
Apparent Age Arguments
85 10 Briarcroft Lane
Laurel, Maryland 20811
From: JASA 33 (December 1981): 254.
I have just started receiving Journal ASA and I must say I enjoy it and am encouraged by it. However, I must say a few things about D. J. Krause's article on apparent age in the 19th century (September, 1980). He seems to think that the resurgence of ap parent age arguments are "characteristic of periods when the tension" of science and a literal interpretation of Genesis is "perceiv ed by some as being especially acute." Is he trying to tell us that before Morris and Whitcomb's Genesis Flood there was no such tension-at least earlier in this century? I would hope we should not be so naive. I cannot, therefore, agree with his misconstrued analysis. Yet I must say I am glad to see an article which has done such historical work about the roots of apparent age arguments; but, once again, I am not convinced that Morris et al use it to the same extent that Chateaubriand, Gosse etc. used it. Krause is right in seeing a historical connection between these two groups seems to me that he does so at the expense of the quite fundamen tal differences between them. Much of what Gosse claims to repre sent as apparent age is never, to my knowledge, used as such by creationists.
It seems to me that folks in the 19th century used the appearance
of age to explain away fossil tracks, glacier scratches (striations?),
fossils and practically all geomorphic features. This, however, is
not something young earth advocates are saying today. A century
ago people looked at scoured valleys and rugged cliffs in amaze
ment and assumed this was, like the wrinkled face of an old man -
evidence of an old earth (it would seem a young earth should not
have such "wrinkles"!)-e.g. some of Lyell's statements are
typical of such sentiment during the 19th century. Yet, young earth
advocates today do not (a) explain away geomorphic and paleon
tologic features as mere created illusions, and (b) they thus do ex
plain such features in scientific (empirical) terms. While Gosse
would have us believe such things are God's created illusions,
Whitcomb, Morris etc. do not propose such an idea; the present
geomorphic, paleontologic etc. features of the earth's crust are not
illusions but results of the recent, catastrophic, geophysical
dynamic processes of the Noachian flood. Whereas one group sees
such wrinkles as developing slowly or sporadically over millions of
years, another group says it is the result of a more condensed, in
tensified form of process. Anyway, the above is just one vital dif
ference between Gosse, Morris etc., one which Krause ignores
completely. The belief that fossils are fakes, glaciers an illusion
and rugged crags are just a cosmic put-on violates the very tenets
upon which science was founded-it was right to censor Gosse for
such behavior, but I do not think creationists are guilty of such
Again, though creationists say animals were possibly created in mature form, I do not think they could agree this means these animals were created with masticated food in their stomachs! Krause must realize, for once, that such crudities are not the result of believing in a young earth-let us not be so narrow-minded; such crudities rather, are indications of the immaturity of the sciences in that century; even old-earth advocates made some rash suggestions then. I give all these people the benefit of the doubt, however, and attribute such rashness to the juvenile character of science at the time and not to their own ineptitude. Nonetheless, I do not find creationists making such unfounded assertions.
Gosse founds his whole worldview upon the assumptions of an appearance of age-his whole case revolves around this absurd basis. But I do not find creationists putting nearly such emphasis on the apparent age argument-and they certainly do not fly off to the unscientific extremes of Gosse. Indeed, there is some truth to the adage that things are not simply as they seem to appear science has shown this. Some formations of rx. do indeed appear older than others (whether one is a uniformitarian or not), and yet the case is the younger-appearing one is actually the older stratum. I have read, some time ago in a college textbook, just such an assertion-that some preCambrian rx look younger than some Cambrian rx or what have you: the author of that text to my knowledge was neither Christian nor creationist.
Now, I do believe that an initial creation entails the creation of mature animals so they may survive and breed (Genesis 20:22). Certainly Adam and Eve seem to have been created as adults-any other suggestion about our parents is simply ad hoc or, like Gosse was guilty of, a mere plea to believe in illusions. This brings me to
my last point.
If Krause finds it laudable to criticise Gosse for being (as I but it believe he was) too "simple-minded" by asserting one should believe in illusions-must we not assert the same thing of those who think evolution is compatible with Genesis? If we go about crying God is not obscure in His geology, are not we being incon sistent when we say God is obscure in Genesis? If Genesis should not be taken literally, what prevents one from not logically assum ing that the Creator would also play tricks with geology? And that, here too, one need not exercise any form of discipline? Are we claiming that Yahweh would never create false fossils while we ourselves dig up our own false bones by suggesting that Genesis should not be taken too literally? (cf Krause p. 146) Is God quite clear in His geology and the natural world while He remains not so clear in His revealed Word!
Is it not far more consistent to suppose there are no tricks in nature-and none in the early chapters of Genesis too? Are we try ing to pull non-existent rabbits out of a hat which no one owns, by saying Gosse was absurd with his belief in illusions while we create our own illusions by suggesting that Genesis should not-God for bid-be interpreted too literally? From whence cometh such logic? I believe one must not confuse science and theology (though both
are compatible), I also believe one must not substitute theology for science or science for theology. If Genesis cannot be taken literally-what in our universe should be?