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Update: July 17, 2007

Thanks for visiting this site, but it is no longer being updated. I've moved on over to and I invite you to join me over there from now on. Thanks for your understanding.

Understanding, Part 1

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Whenever I write about something that I generally don't have a good sense for, I research, something I think everyone should do so that they don't end up talking out of their rear ends. I'm not talking about going to a library and spending three months learning everything humanly possible about the subject, so much so that you could in a distorted way be considered a bit of a junior expert.

As an example, the thing in question begins with a biblical quote, "...keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding... Oppositions of science falsely so-called". I don't believe you have to read the bible to understand what it is, in fact one could argue that you couldn't gain a true perspective until you've read every volume of every biblical set in history. Lacking the underlying knowledge and requisite time and interest in doing such a diabolical thing to myself, I did the cheap thing and looked the quote up in Google.

One of the first things I found was both irrelevant to the quote, yet entirely relevant to an argument at hand: how evolution relates to the age of the universe, and the Earth. In fact, the page in question provides us with five methods for "know(ing) the age of the Earth." An interesting proposition, one I cannot help but investigate even though it has little to do with the subject for which I was going to write. I suppose that will just have to come later.

1. I was never taught this truth as a young person, so when I entered college, I was taken in by the evolutionists claims of the earth being millions of years old. I spent many years in confusion, which is exactly what the devil wanted. There is no need of people being fooled by the false claims of evolutionists. There is no need of you being fooled either.

I regret that my first thought is to insult this person, when chances are that they had no choice in their religious upbringing. This is a chief problem I see with teaching children a religion, rather than teaching children about religion. Kids aren't capable of making choices about what they believe, they are totally subservient to what they are told, and what they perceive to be real. Parents are idolized in the early stages of development when nothing they say could be taken as anything but fact. Unless of course the child is of a mind to argue, but that is more about establishing dominance than it is having a rational discussion about who is right.

This person makes clear that their parents abused them when they were young by indoctrinating them into a cult. The large faiths may be mainstream, but make no mistake, they still fit the definition.

Noun: cult
1. Adherents of an exclusive system of religious beliefs and practices
2. An interest followed with exaggerated zeal
3. A system of religious beliefs and rituals

Many sects of the Christian faith fit all three definitions. Their belief in a Christian God is exclusive to all other religions; a great many of them are zealous about their faith; there are many beliefs and rituals followed every year.

If you have trouble accepting this, then I suggest you look up the definitions of 'zealous' and 'ritual', for anyone who regularly celebrates Christmas (for its supposed original purpose) is zealous about a ritual, and very likely many more.

These things aside, the person admits that they were never properly schooled as a young person, which explains why they entered college in a state of ignorance. I'm sitting here wondering how someone could even make it into a college without understanding basic high school science. Understand that one need not believe the truth of evolution for one to understand it and have knowledge of it, and such belief has never been a requirement of any school curriculum that I am aware of.

It is of little surprise then that this person when confronted with well established science turned to the only thing they truly understood, the fall back from childhood: religion. I suppose it's rather like going to college, and finding that every professor on the campus was uniform in their agreement that lying is a perfectly okay thing to do at all times. It'd be natural for you to question and dismiss it, even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, simply because your parents taught you that it wasn't okay -- when you were just a little kid.

Sometimes mommy and daddy are right, but as we often find when we grow up, they are as fallible as we are. Nothing everything is as it seems when you are young, and the solution is to let people make these decisions for themselves when they are capable. That's the only power a person ever really has.

The things we learn earliest are the things that define us, the things that we carry with us throughout our lives. It is my opinion that the religious indoctrination this person suffered as a child has severely handicapped their ability to make rational decisions, which has culminated in the "five reasons for knowing", and subsequently this article.

Now I must apologize for diverging, because I haven't even addressed the first of the five reasons. Let's look at it again.

1. I was never taught this truth as a young person, so when I entered college, I was taken in by the evolutionists claims of the earth being millions of years old. I spent many years in confusion, which is exactly what the devil wanted. There is no need of people being fooled by the false claims of evolutionists. There is no need of you being fooled either.

The first problem is that the Earth isn't millions of years old, it is in fact billions of years old. This is analogous to saying that the person standing next to you is "a bit shorter than normal" when he is approximately 1cm in height. A "bit" in this context is quite the understatement.

The author continues by graciously informing us that there is no need for us to be fooled by those satanic evolutionists, and promptly ends without having actually given a reason for knowing the approximate age of the Earth. Notice that in place of reason and logic, we have this person quite literally demonizing those he disagrees with, which in and of itself is a kind of logical fallacy. For the moment, I find absolutely nothing of value in this statement, so there can't possibly be five reasons. As such, I'll move on to the "first of four reasons of knowing."

2. We need to know that all things that called science, is not science. Sometimes it's simply mens opinions. We need to learn that all true science is in agreement with the Bible. The Bible is not a science book, but because the Bible contains all truth, all true science will be in agreement with the Bible.

This is another type of logical fallacy, called petitio principii, or circular reasoning. If you take out the extra words meant to confuse, the ones that don't in any way support the conclusion but instead simply reveal opinion, then the circular nature becomes readily apparent. "All true science is in agreement with the Bible .. because the Bible contains all truth, all true science will be in agreement with the Bible."

Another example would be "It's true because Fred said it, and Fred has also said that he himself never lies, therefore it has to be true."

It also tries to attribute science in some cases as simply being a persons opinion, which is obviously a nonsense claim. Science itself is simply defined as "a way of knowing", not all that interesting or helpful, because what you really want to attack is empirical methodology. That's not going to get you very far with your argument though, since the basis of empirical science are verifiable experiments. You test to either confirm or falsify a claim, raising it above a level of mere speculation.

This "reason" fails as a logical fallacy, and now we're down to "first of three reasons for knowing."

3. We need to know that the Bible is our guide in this life. In all things, we need to follow the Bible. If there is any question, the Bible has the answer; even in the area of Science. God has not left out what he wants us to believe concerning the creation of this world. He has given us everything we need for time and eternity; therefore, we know he has also given us all the facts we need about the creation of this world.

From what I've been told by respected scholars, the Bible consists primarily of stories meant to convey good morals, and read on its face is not to be taken literally. I can't make such a conclusion myself without reading it, but even if it is not true, the third of three doesn't give us a reason for knowing the age of the Earth either.

If anything, I surmise that most even minded people of faith may find this persons interpretation of the Bible's role in life to be a bit extreme, the kind that gives rise to the Crusades when killing in the name of God while holding the holy book high above ones head was the fad of the day. This point of view is much more synonymous to radical Islam than it is mainstream Christianity.

It takes the meaning of the commandments to a whole new level.

Lacking an actual reason to believe or know the age of the Earth other than to say "we need to believe the Bible...just because", we move on to the ever dwindling "first of two reasons for knowing."

4. We can have confidence that the Lord will soon return. In II Peter 3:1-18, the Bible states that people will begin to say the Lord is not returning because all things continue from the beginning of the creation. This is not so, all things are not continuing from the beginning of the creation. God created the earth in six days and rested from creation. Sin came into the world after the first week of creation. So things have not continued from the beginning of the creation. Things have continued from the end of creation.

This is just preaching, there is no reason or logic here; it's one persons recounting of what he read in a book, and we're now down to the "first of one reason(s) for knowing." I hope it's a good one, because most countdowns like this just end up sucking.

5. We often say there were six days of creation, and God rested on the seventh day. Then folks often ask the question: "How long was a day in the beginning of the earth?" The Bible answers that question. Listen to Genesis 1:1-5, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. 2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. 3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. 4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. 5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day." Did you catch verse 5, which stated, "...And the evening and the morning were the first day." How long is a day? It is an evening and a morning. Notice that God counts the day as beginning in the evening, just like the Jewish calendar.

And that, ladies and germs, are the five reasons for knowing the age of the Earth. In fact, there are no reasons at all. Four and five were just recounting and verbatim quotes from the Bible, which cannot serve as proof of anything. Three was a miniature sermon, two was a logical fallacy, and number one was the person admitting they weren't properly schooled as a child.

Oddly enough, this appears to be an excerpt of a 120 page book on the subject, which you can get by mailing a $15 check to the author, natch.

There are another five points that claim to be "Biblical steps necessary to determine the age of the universe." All of them are proofs that rely on the various versions of the books of the Bible being literal fact, totally lacking in corroborating evidence.

I'd love to expound on this subject further, but I've flown well past the attention span limit of the Newsvine audience in general, so I must wrap this up before the urge to go visit YouTube or the Drudge Report overwhelms their urge to "get smarter."

The scientifically accepted age of the planet has been established by multiple experiments and theories, the first of which is something called radiometric dating. This method has been refined so that it is accurate to within .06%, or about 2 million years on a sample that is three billion years old. Similar to radiocarbon dating, radiometric measures different elements that have much longer half-lives than carbon-14, namely uranium-238, with a half-life of 4.5 billion years.

As with most science, this "method of knowing" has undergone decades of testing that has confirmed its accuracy and legitimacy. And like most science, it is still open to being falsified at any moment, should evidence come along that contradicts our understanding. Note, I said evidence, not hearsay or baseless claims. God or Jesus' account of the deal doesn't count unless either can cough up some basic proof to the contrary.

According to best estimates, the Earth is about 4,567,000,000 years old. It's long past time to put away this nonsense and move on.

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The text of this article is Copyright © 2006,2007 Paul William Tenny. All rights reserved. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. Attribution by: full name and original URL. Comments are copyrighted by their authors and are not subject to the Creative Commons license of the article itself.