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The Problem of Genesis

By Wertbag ~ 

The first book of the bible is Genesis, and it tells us a creation story. Christians are split in what to make of this, with Fundamentalist types saying it should be taken as literal, historical truth, while non-fundamentalist types will say it’s a metaphor or moral story designed to teach us about God. The fundamentalist view has two major events which conflict with science, first the age of the Earth, which they calculate by counting back the people’s ages in the bible until you get to Adam around 6000 years ago. The second is the claim of a global flood, being survived by a single family in a wooden boat filled with the animals of the world. To believe both things you must outright deny science in almost every field. This in turn can lead to conspiracy minded thinking, as it really would need the entire scientific community to work together to hide this claim.

Young Earth Creationists (YEC) attempt to say the Earth is young and that all life was created in an instant by God. This means they need to deny evolution, abiogenesis, the age of the universe, the age of the Earth, radiometric dating, and a host of other established facts. For example, when we look at the age of the Earth there are numerous ways to determine what it is, including the 26 different radiometric dating methods, coral growth rates, ice core samples, sediment layering, erosion rates, glacial movement speeds, tectonic plate movement speed, mountain range growth, the volume of biomass in the Earth’s history and the fossil record. This means that YEC proponents don’t just have to deny a single conflicting piece of evidence, but dozens upon dozens of facts that don’t align with this worldview.

The global flood idea falls into a very similar pattern, in that science says a global flood never happened and the story as written is impossible, so the global flood proponent is forced to argue that all science is wrong. How did Noah collect the wood, stop it from rotting for a century, then collect all the animals from different continents, keep them alive in harsh conditions, store enough food and water, then release them all without the carnivores wiping out the herbivores, then have them all return to their original habitats? Where did the water come from and go to considering there is not enough water on Earth to cover the highest mountains? How did species reduced to 2 members survive via inbreeding when we know that would cause sterility within a couple of generations? How did they look after arctic and desert animals at the same time? How did a fully wooden boat, prior to metal reinforcing, survive the greatest storm ever? How did the pyramids stay dry or the numerous cave paintings survive?

The list of questions such a story raises are almost unending, with the believers fall back being “God did it with magic”. For many, once you’ve laid a hundred miracles on top of each other, all which are not mentioned in the bible, solely to plug all the gaping holes in the story, then credulity is stretched thin.

Science doesn’t just give the conclusion, but explains how and why that conclusion was reached, allowing others to repeat the tests and build upon the knowledge gained. So, when a YEC says radiometric dating doesn’t work, we can look to the science to explain how it does and why we know it is reliable. One easy test is with trees, where we can clearly see the age via the growth rings. If we use carbon dating and the results match the growth rings, then we can be confident that the result is accurate. Repeat that test a thousand times with accurate results each time and you have a whole body of results proving the conclusion. It is this level of confidence that the YEC must argue against, claiming that while thousands of calibration tests have been done, they are all wrong. This is ideology over facts.

Fundamentalists will say if you can’t read the bible straight as written, then how can you trust anything it says? While this idea is an attempt to push people to follow a literal interpretation, it can in reverse leave people agreeing that the bible is untrustworthy. If it's all metaphor and parables, then can we say anything claimed to have been said by God or Jesus is true? Is salvation a thing they care about or was that just a moral story? Did the resurrection happen or was that just a story to teach us about God’s mind? The failure of Genesis to clearly match the world we see, leaves doubt that any of it is true.

Originally posted in the Reasons for Disbelief thread on Ex-Christian.Net