But regardless of the general evidence not favoring their side, the more highly educated creationists invoke various ingenious explanations to explain away the evidence for an old earth and evolution. Such explanations may include the idea of “virtual history,” or, “creation with appearance of age,” and lastly, “the deliberate rejection of Godʼs word” [that does not allow secular scientists to understand and accept the true age of the cosmos]:
Aardsma & the Virtual History Hypothesis
Young-cosmos creationist, Aardsma (Ph.D. in nuclear physics from the University of Toronto) believes that his “virtual history” hypothesis is less problematic than the usual creationist excuse of “creation with apparent age.” Aardsma even admits at one point below that “I think there is enormous evidence of biological evolution (meaning extensive changes to flora and fauna)—-again, in virtual history.” But not in real history. Read his explanation of virtual history below and see if you are convinced:
“To one thinking consistently in a virtual history framework, the phrase ‘creation with appearance of age’ seems at best a redundancy, at worst a heresy, and in the middle (just to cover all the ground) an absurdity. So there are, obviously, some differences. I havenʼt had to articulate these differences to many people to the present time, so it is still not easy to explain what I can ‘see.’ In addition, it gets harder to think in the Creation with Appearance of Age paradigm the longer you think in the Virtual History paradigm —- kind of like trying to make yourself play the piano wrong after years of training to play right. So consider the following comments to be a rough draft.”
“The two ideas share some similarity, but differ at a basic level both philosophically and theologically. Creation with Appearance of Age gives the impression that God arbitrarily painted a facade of age over the creation — that He could have chosen to leave everything looking its ‘real’ created age (i.e., roughly 7000 years, by my best Bible chronology reckoning) if He had wanted to, but He chose instead to make things look much older. This immediately raises theological objections: ‘But why would God do such a thing? Isnʼt it fundamentally dishonest to make something look like it isnʼt? Isnʼt God being deceitful?’” (This is where the “heresy” mentioned above comes from.)
“The virtual history view never encounters this problem. It says that the people who are saying ‘creation with appearance of age’ donʼt understand properly what the word/idea ‘creation’ means. The virtual history view goes to the analogy of human creations to try to show what ‘creation’ means. It takes the creation of a story by a human author as (probably its best) analogy. It observes that in all such stories one always has a virtual history present—-grown characters wearing sewn garments and living in already built houses… right from page one of the story. What is implied from page one of the story is a cause-and-effect virtual history to the story, stretching back into the indefinite past. This virtual history in no way contradicts the actual date (in the story charactersʼ time) of creation of the story. (That ‘date’ we would fix at page one of the book, since that is when, in the story frame of reference, the story world comes into existence.) We find by such analogies that an ‘appearance of age’ is inherent in what ‘creation’ means.” (This is where the “redundancy” mentioned above comes from.)
“But this ‘appearance of age’ is not an add-on and is not arbitrary. Try to imagine writing a story which does not have an ‘appearance of age’. After you have completed that exercise, try to imagine writing a fiction story which has a false ‘appearance of age’. I find that it is intrinsically impossible to create such stories. I.e., you cannot have a ‘creation with an appearance of age’ if you mean by that anything other than a creation with its inherent virtual history. To ask for a creation with a false appearance of age (which includes the case of a creation having no appearance of age), is to ask for the impossible/ridiculous.” (This is where the ‘absurdity’ mentioned above comes from.)
“We are living in a ‘story’ God created. God is both author and reader of this story (e.g., ‘For in Him we both live and move and have our being.’ Acts 17:28.) (Note how this works. A story-world has no existence in the book; its existence is in the mind of the author and readers.) Page one opens about 7000 years ago our time, (the only time frame we have access to). This ‘story’ has a virtual history stretching back billions of years. We find this to be the case by computing the time it would take light to travel from remote galaxies we see in the sky, or by computing the time it would take radioactive elements, such as uranium dug from the earth in natural ores, to decay as much as they have. These great ages in no way negate the fact that page one opens 7000 years ago. Nor does our virtual history, with all its dinosaurs etc. negate the fact that we are created. All stories have virtual histories and no story yet has ever created itself—-all have had an author/creator. And the fact that our (fallen) virtual history shows eons of death and savagery and futility merely says ‘amen’ to what Romans teaches, that the whole creation has been subjected to futility by God as a consequence of the entrance of sin, in hopes of its eventual redemption (Romans 8:20). [And, if I may stray from the point a bit, the ‘story’ is still being written/read, and God allows us to take a real part in its unfolding by our prayers and actions—-so the Bible shows.]”
“This raises one more major point of difference, the handling of the Fall. Briefly, Creation with Appearance of Age runs into a theological snag with things like fossils of fish with other smaller fish in their stomachs: ‘Do you mean that God chose to paint, of all things, a facade of Suffering and Death onto the creation when He gave it this arbitrary appearance of age at the time of creation?’ The virtual history paradigm recognizes simply that all creation type miracles entail a virtual history, so the Fall, with its creation type miracles (by which the nature of the creation was changed —- ‘subjected to futility’) carried with it its own (fallen) virtual history, which is the virtual history we now see. We do not see the original utopian pre-Fall creation with its (presumably utopian) virtual history. … Yes, I believe there was an ‘ice-age’. Actually, there were several ice-ages. They were all in virtual history. The last one ended about 10,000 years ago. So it doesnʼt enter into real history, since Creation happened just over 7,000 years ago. Since my work is designed to defend the historical truth of the Bible against charges that what it reports as history is in fact fiction, I have not had much cause to talk about the ice-ages so far. (In my understanding of virtual history and the past, one can just accept what the scientists specializing in these fields are telling everyone is their best understanding/reconstruction of these past events. These reconstructions do not attack the historical integrity of the Bible in any way once one understands the concept of virtual history.)”
“Actually, I think there is enormous evidence of biological evolution (meaning extensive changes to flora and fauna)—-again, in virtual history. Note that the Bible does not say that biological evolution CAN NOT happen; it says that biological evolution Did Not happen. That is, the Bible clearly teaches that we got here by Creation, not by Evolution. ‘In the beginning God Created the heavens and the earth,’ not ‘In the beginning God Evolved the heavens and the earth.’ But none of this excludes the possibility of biological evolution in virtual history. In fact, the teaching in Romans 8:20, that the creation was subjected to futility at the time of the Fall, meshes rather well with evolution being the thing seen in the virtual history data, for the hallmark of evolution is not purpose, but random chance and meaninglessness.”
“The Grand Canyon should also be understood just as the standard scientists describe its formation. It too is a virtual history phenomenon.”
“Virtual history is not a hard idea. Just think about what it means to actually CREATE something. Creating a story is a helpful analogy. Take ‘The Hobbit’ as an example of a created entity. Now step into the book with Bilbo on page one and begin to examine the world around you. Everything you see and examine around you has already, on page one, an extensive built-in virtual history. Bilbo is in his 50ʼs as I recall. So he has a virtual history. His house has been dug back into the hill, implying someone did some digging. If you examine the tunnels you can no doubt find tool marks left by the workmen. His front door is made of wood, implying trees grown, sawn into planks, planed, and fastened together by craftsmen, all before the story begins. And on and on it goes…Bilboʼs clothing with all those stitches, and the soil in his yard and garden with humus from long-dead leaves, …”
“We are living in a Creation. The creation we are living in is a story of Godʼs making. It opens on page one 5176+/-26 B.C. (by my best reckoning so far). The story moves from Creation to Fall to Flood to Exodus to Birth of Christ to Crucifixion to Redemption to ultimate Restoration of all things. This story is our reality, but it is not ultimate reality. (God is ultimate reality—-He transcends the story just as any author transcends their created story.) And like any story, it has, necessarily, a virtual history built in from page one onward.”
“The big take-home point is that evidence of virtual history—-of even millions or billions of years of this or that process operating in the past—-does not and cannot falsify the fact of creation in a created entity. So we can let the virtual history data about the Grand Canyon or the ice ages or whatever else speak for itself and say whatever it seems to say. We do not have to resort to foolishness (e.g., denying the validity of tree-ring calibrated radiocarbon dates) to try to wipe out every trace of any natural process prior to the biblical date of Creation. We understand virtual history to be part and parcel of any created thing, so evidences of such processes do not threaten our faith or falsify the Bibleʼs claim that we got here by supernatural creation just over 7000 years ago.”
Source: “Correspondence: Virtual History”
Young Earth Creationist Todd Wood Has a Ph.D. in Biochemistry & Experience in the Field of DNA Analysis. He Admits the Same Things Aardsma Does.
“Evolution is not a theory in crisis. It is not teetering on the verge of collapse. It has not failed as a scientific explanation. There is evidence for evolution, gobs and gobs of it. It is not just speculation or a faith choice or an assumption or a religion. It is a productive framework for lots of biological research, and it has amazing explanatory power. There is no conspiracy to hide the truth about the failure of evolution. There has really been no failure of evolution as a scientific theory. It works, and it works well… I say these things not because Iʼm crazy or because Iʼve ‘converted’ to evolution. I say these things because they are true. Iʼm motivated this morning by reading yet another clueless, well-meaning person pompously declaring that evolution is a failure… Creationist students, listen to me very carefully: There is evidence for evolution, and evolution is an extremely successful scientific theory. That doesnʼt make it ultimately true, and it doesnʼt mean that there could not possibly be viable alternatives. It is my own faith choice to reject evolution, because I believe the Bible reveals true information about the history of the earth that is fundamentally incompatible with evolution. I am motivated to understand Godʼs creation from what I believe to be a biblical, creationist perspective. Evolution itself is not flawed or without evidence. Please donʼt be duped into thinking that somehow evolution itself is a failure. Please donʼt idolize your own ability to reason. Faith is enough. If God said it, that should settle it. Maybe thatʼs not enough for your scoffing professor or your non-Christian friends, but it should be enough for you.”
Source: “The truth about evolution”
And see this post in which some of Toddʼs fellow creationists wonder if heʼs not a closet evolutionist for admitting thereʼs evidence for evolution.
On the other hand, see this post in which Todd discusses his view of creationism and why he doesnʼt think it is a pseudoscience but a genuine alternative to evolution that needs to develop its own hypotheses and theories related to “baraminology.”
As for Toddʼs credentials, he has a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Virginia (Charlottesville, 1999). His Ph.D. advisor was Dr. William Pearson, the original developer of the widely popular FASTA suite of computer programs used for DNA analyses. When providing a reference for Todd in his subsequent academic position application, Dr. Pearson stated “he was the best graduate student I ever had.” Immediately following his Ph.D. work at Virginia, Dr. Wood accepted a position as the Director of Bioinformatics at the Clemson University Genomics Institute (Clemson, SC) which at that time, was directed by Dr. Rod Wing, a world famous scientist in the field of plant genomics. After working for about two years at Clemson University, Dr. Wood accepted a faculty position at Bryan College (Dayton, TN) in 2002 where he now serves as the Director of the Center for Origins Research and Associate Professor of Science. He helped start the Baraminology Study Group (for creationists who are trying to scientifically determine what a biblical “kind” is). Todd has organized two conferences on baraminology. He is currently an Assistant Professor at the Center for Origins Research and Education at Bryan College and is also active at church, singing in the choir and teaching Sunday school.
Kurt Wise, Another YEC with a Ph.D. Admits Some Evidence “fits the evolutionary prediction quite well.”
And “could turn against creationism.”
Segment from a NYT article (“Rock of Ages, Ages of Rock” by Hanna Rosin) in which Wise admits the fossil transitions seen throughout time in the geologic record “fits the evolutionary prediction quite well” :
The heads of all the leading scientific creationist institutes from several countries showed up for the Cedarville event, along with the movementʼs other stars: John Baumgardner, a geophysicist who worked for 20 years at Los Alamos National Laboratory; Kurt Wise, who got his Ph.D. in paleontology from Harvard in the ʼ80s as a student of Stephen Jay Gould, the nationʼs most famous opponent of creationism; and Marcus Ross, 31, the latest inductee into the movement, who got his Ph.D. in environmental science from the University of Rhode Island last summer.
Like any group of elites, they were snobs about their superior degrees. During lunch breaks or car rides, they traded jokes about the “vulgar creationists” and the “uneducated masses,” and, in their least Christian moments, the “idiots on the Web.” One leader of a creationist institute complained about all the cranks who call on the phone claiming to have seen dinosaurs or to have had a vision of Noahʼs ark. (How Noah fit the entire animal kingdom onto the ark is a perennial obsession.)
Because they have been exposed to so much standard science, the educated creationists like Kurt Wise try not to allow themselves the blind spots of their less sophisticated relations. Some years ago, for instance, fellow creationists claimed to have found fossils of human bones in Pennsylvania coal deposits, which scientists date to millions of years before humans appeared. After examining them, Wise concluded that they were “not fossil material at all” but “inorganically precipitated iron siderite nodules.” Wise later pushed to get himself appointed as scientific adviser to the new creationist museum so he could “keep out the scientific garbage.”
In a presentation at the conference, Wise showed a slide of a fossil sequence that moved from reptile to mammal, with some transitional fossils in between. He veered suddenly from his usual hyperactive mode to contemplative. “Itʼs a pain in the neck,” he said. “It fits the evolutionary prediction quite well.” Wise and others have come up with various theories explaining how the flood could have produced such perfect order. Wise is refining a theory, for example, that the order reflects how far the animals lived from the shore, so those living farthest from the water show up last in the record. But they havenʼt settled on anything yet.
“We have nothing to fear from data,” Ross told me. “If weʼre afraid, it means we donʼt trust Godʼs word.” The older generation of creationists “would come up with an explanation or a model and say, ‘This solves it!’ Iʼm a bit more cautious and at the same time more rigorous. We have lines of possibility that we continue to advance but at the same time we recognize that this is science, so the explanations are subject to change with new discoveries.”
Source: “Rock of Ages, Ages of Rock”
In a 1995 article by creationist paleontologist Kurt Wise he admitted the following:
In various macroevolutionary models, stratomorphic intermediates might be expected to be any one or more of several different forms: – … It is a Very Good Evolutionary Argument… Of Darwinismʼs four stratomorphic intermediate expectations, that of the commonness of inter-specific stratomorphic intermediates has been the most disappointing for classical Darwinists. The current lack of any certain inter-specific stratomorphic intermediates has, of course, led to the development and increased acceptance of punctuated equilibrium theory. Evidences for Darwinʼs second expectation - of stratomorphic intermediate species - include such species as Baragwanathia27 (between rhyniophytes and lycopods), Pikaia28 (between echinoderms and chordates), Purgatorius29 (between the tree shrews and the primates), and Proconsul30 (between the non-hominoid primates and the hominoids). Darwinʼs third expectation - of higher-taxon stratomorphic intermediates - has been confirmed by such examples as the mammal-like reptile groups31 between the reptiles and the mammals, and the phenacdontids32 between the horses and their presumed ancestors. Darwinʼs fourth expectation - of stratomorphic series - has been confirmed by such examples as the early bird series,33 the tetrapod series,34,35 the whale series,36 the various mammal series of the Cenozoic37 (for example, the horse series, the camel series, the elephant series, the pig series, the titanothere series, etc.), the Cantius and [p. 219]
Plesiadapus primate series,38 and the hominid series.39 Evidence for not just one but for all three of the species level and above types of stratomorphic intermediates expected by macroevolutionary theory is surely strong evidence for macroevolutionary theory. Creationists therefore need to accept this fact. It certainly CANNOT said that traditional creation theory expected (predicted) any of these fossil finds. [p. 221]
In fairness, Wise goes on to claim that this evidence is “explainable” under the creation model, postulating as an alternative the scientific model that “God created organisms according to His nature” (p. 219), which apparently leads to the expectation of “high homoplasy” – because God, I assume, likes homoplasy.
Source: “Honest creationist Kurt Wise on transitional fossils”
“…creationists still struggle with defining the baramin [the biblical ‘kind’] and justifying baraminology methodology, and evolutionists have found ample opportunity for criticism.”
— Todd Charles Wood, Kurt P. Wise, Roger Sanders, N. Doran, “A Refined Baramin Concept,” Occasional Papers of the Baraminology Study Group, July 25, 2003 Number Three [To be fair the creationist authors do wind up convincing themselves by the end of their paper that they have come up with a new refined concept of “baramin” that can spark loads of convincing new creation research]
Wise sums up his view this way:
“Although there are scientific reasons for accepting a young earth, I am a young-age creationist because that is my understanding of the Scripture. As I shared with my professors years ago when I was in college, if all the evidence in the universe turns against creationism, I would be the first to admit it, but I would still be a creationist because that is what the Word of God seems to indicate. Here I must stand.”
Source: “In Six Days, Why 50 Scientists Choose to Believe in Creation”
And in his book, “Faith, Form, and Time,” Wise wrote:
“A face-value reading of the Bible indicates that the creation is thousands of years old. A face-value examination of the creation suggests it is millions or billions of years old. A reconciliation of these two observations is one of the most significant challenges to creation research. Much more research must be devoted to this question to produce an acceptable resolution.”
Wise acknowledges that he embraces a minority view in scientific and academic circles, including Christian educators. At the most recent national conference of geologists, the creationists numbered a handful of the 8,000 attending; even in an Association of Christian Geologists meeting, Wise was in the minority. The overwhelming sway of evolution in public education doesnʼt bother him. But he sees little support among Christian educators for the theory he embraces. “I donʼt see a day in my lifetime when young-earth creationism will become accepted in the church,” Wise said. “I have no idea how to convince believers [the earth is young]. People who have a particular position on this issue arenʼt at all convinced by evidence.” Adding, “When I talk to an unbeliever, I donʼt want to talk about whether scientific evidence is consistent with a flood or a young earth,” Wise said. “The most important issue to speak about with unbelievers is their status before God and their eternity. [Otherwise], youʼre not talking about the most important issue.”
Source: Baptist Press, “‘Worldview shapes oneʼs conclusions about creation,’ Kurt Wise writes”
Wise also mentions the problems that evolution poses for a creationist biblical world view in his review of a book by Gould:
As [Stephen J.] Gould [one of Wiseʼs professors at Harvard] explains so well, however, a scientifically orthodox understanding of earth history includes many facts that are at odds with the idea that man was a purposeful product of the evolution. Why is it, for example, that for two thirds of the history of the earth, life proceeded no further than bacteria? Why is it that for half of the remaining one third of earth history, life remained one-celled? What is to be made of the possibility that two unsuccessful attempts at multicellularity preceded the one that finally initiated the line to humans? Why was the evolution of mammals delayed for 100 million years by the parenthetical note of the development, domination, and demise of the ‘terrible lizards’? Why is it that it took 99,999 out of the 100,000 units of time in the history of this universe for man to come about? And finally, if man is in Godʼs image, does God look like the ape who bore us? Although not expressly designed as a polemic against theological theories of accommodation, Gouldʼs arguments nonetheless bear upon them. The very nature of God comes into question if He chose evolution as a means to form man. The literal reading of the macroevolutionary history of the earth is that man is an accident—at best an afterthought of natureʼs process.
Source: “Truly A Wonderful Life” Review of: Gould, Stephen Jay, 1989
A Similar Ad Hoc Idea Was Suggested By William Dembski, Old-Earther And I.Dʼist, who suggests in his book, The End of Christianity: Finding a Good God in an Evil World, that “…at the heart of this [Dembskiʼs] theodicy is the idea that [Adam and Eve were real and lived in a paradisical creation, but…] the effects of the Fall [i.e., death, carnage in the world of living organisms] can be retroactive as well as proactive (much as the saving effects of the cross stretch not only forward in time but also backward, saving, for instance, the Old Testament saints)… An omnipotent God unbound by time can make natural evil predate the Fall and yet make the Fall the reason for natural evil.” Dembski adds that an evolutionist, supposedly a theistic one, can also employ his theodicy.
Which brings us back to the statements above by Aardsma, Wood and Wise, who claim that one can be a young-earth creationist and accept all of the data for an old-earth. To them itʼs merely a matter of the young-earther having a different interpretation of the data.
Andrew Snelling “The Creation Model: Itʼs Past, Present and Necessary Future,” at the 6th International Creation Conference, finds the problem not to be scientific so much as “spiritual, a deliberate rejection of Godʼs word”:
“What if there was absolutely no evidence that the universe was young? No scientific evidence the universe was young. Would you still believe that it was young? Why? Because Godʼs word teaches it. Thatʼs the only reason you need to have to believe the universe is young. Godʼs word says it, therefore I believe it. Thatʼs not to say the evidences are not important. Of course they are. Because weʼre commanded to have a reason for the hope, and to give reasoned answers for what we believe and why we believe it. But we must always remember our Biblical foundations.”
“So often we fight over the scientific evidence, but are we winning by leaving out our Biblical foundations? Too much of our creation apologetics has therefore been based on the evidence alone. We need to keep arguing from the level of world views. Because ultimately the problem that people have is spiritual, the deliberate rejection of Godʼs word.”
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