Furthermore, Dr. Snelling’s arguments are unscientific and illogical in at least two ways. First, the claim that these evidences confirm (i.e. they are consistent with) a young Earth rests in tautology. In each case, Dr. Snelling (or cited authors) will define the physical data according to a Young-Earth timeline and then pronounce the data as being consistent therewith.
In other words, the evidence from science confirms a young Earth, because we have made it to do so. There is no room for surprise; we are right because we are right. If you don’t already agree fully with Dr. Snelling’s ideological claims, don’t expect to be challenged by the evidence he cites.
Secondly, I will suggest that Snelling’s approach is philosophically inconsistent. Answers in Genesis is infamous among critics for distinguishing falsely between operational and historical science (or for radicalizing that distinction). In reality, these two aspects of science represent two faces of the same methodological approach. So called operational science seeks to interpret the repeatable results of a designed experiment. In the historical sciences, however, the experiment has already been run by nature, so to speak. It is the unobserved ‘experiment’ that must be interpreted and reconstructed through testing of competing hypothetical scenarios (hypotheses), which seek to explain the observed results. Both aspects of science involve observations and assumptions, and neither is independent from ideological or hermeneutical biases. Therefore, both are fluid and highly susceptible to scientific revolutions.
By delineating sharply between operational and historical science (the latter of which contradicts their claims), Answers in Genesis has conspicuously lent credence to one over the other. To be credible, historical sciences must be guided by an eyewitness account from someone who saw or even designed the experiment. That eyewitness account, they claim, is received through the textual tradition of the Hebrew Bible. The unspoken irony is that understanding the Bible requires an appeal to the historical sciences—namely, literary hermeneutics applied to ancient texts.
Notwithstanding your own view on the divine inspiration of the Bible, you should be able to recognize the logical errors being made. With a little simmering, we can reduce AiG’s stance to the following:
1) Historical science is full of untestable assumptions and is therefore not trustworthy without appealing to our authoritative interpretation of divine scripture. If your historical inquiry contradicts ours, then your starting assumptions must be false, because ours alone are correct. We know they are correct, because they are consistent with our interpretation of divine scripture, which itself appeals to the historical sciences. Our appeal to the historical sciences is correct because it is guided by our interpretation of divine scripture. (Another tautology that results in begging the question)
2) Nonetheless, here are ten evidences derived from historical science that confirm our claims. Of course, these evidences are only sensible if interpreted according to our view of history. Historical science is reliable when it supports our claims, therefore, but not when it contradicts them. (A philosophical inconsistency)
Over the next few posts, I will briefly analyze Dr. Snelling’s Top Ten list of scientific evidence confirming a young Earth. Is there too little sediment on the seafloor to believe in an ‘old’ Earth? Too little salt in the ocean? What about soft tissues that survived fossilization? Although these are commonly raised objections by YEC’s to an old Earth, very few know how these ‘evidences’ are compiled in the first place. But therein the magic is found. Numbers don’t lie, but people often lie with numbers.
Fortunately, we need not get technical to reveal the magician’s secret.