Age of the Earth: Refuting Skepticism
Throughout history, science has always faced challenges from outside groups who work to mold science to their beliefs, ignoring evidence and commonly held facts. Following in the legacy of the flat world and an Earth centered Universe, young Earth creationists bend science to fit their explanations of the Earth’s origin and timeline. Evidence for the ancient age of the Earth is present in every discipline of Earth science and directly refutes claims made by young Earth creationists. It is important to examine these claims and rebut them, as their denial of proper scientific understanding hampers progress and has wider implications for the future of our society.
Young Earth creationists are not the first group to question science based on religious grounds, but they are unique in their twisting of science to fit their objectives. The modern young Earth creationist movement solidified in the early 19th century, and is closely tied to the religious author, Ellen White, who refuted modern science and insisted on a literal interpretation of the Bible, enhanced by prophetic visions she claimed to have experienced (Giberson, 2014). The main tenets of the movement are that: the Bible is literal, Noah’s flood drove the formation of modern geological phenomenon, and that science unfailingly supports their assertions.
While this may seem like a weak foundation for a movement claiming to have scientific underpinnings, Gallup polls of the U.S. have consistently found that around 45% of Americans believe a celestial God created humans in the last 10,000 years. An interesting number considering that when asked to judge specific scientific questions, such as the movement of the continents, people tend to overwhelmingly favor accepted scientific explanations (Ortega, 2013). The variation in these responses shows the power of religion to aggregate issues in such a way that people will deny the parts while fervently advocating for the whole.
The main strength of the young Earth movement is its ability to shift between scientific sounding explanation and religious faith based arguments. Because science does not have an omniscient back-up source, any lack of explanation for current phenomenon is easily construed as a weakness to a scientifically unsophisticated audience, placing the burden of proof unfairly at the feet of science. Despite these tactics, a thorough explanation of current scientific understanding eliminates any question of doubt about the age of the Earth, and can directly combat what Young-Earthers consider their strongest claims.
The idea that one giant flood is responsible for all the erosional formations on the Earth is a grand assertion which ignores the vast complexity and rich diversity of the Earth’s landscape. The power of water based erosion is responsible for carving landscapes, and the deposition of sediment across wide distances, a process which...