The Origin of the Universe and Earth
(6007 years plus or minus a couple or so)
Notes on a 1.5 hour lecture with this title presented 9-20-2003 at the Durango Christian Church, Durango, Colorado, by Mr. Joe Sebeny. Joe is associated with a “creation science” organization in Arizona. Their web site is: http://www.puritanhope.com/aosa/
The notes that follow reproduce, I hope accurately, the essence of Mr. Sebeny’s lecture.
My comments are in () parentheses.
If no parentheses, I mean to convey what Joe said.
(The good news is this. Although advertised locally for the preceding month, with “a free book” being offered in a newspaper ad to the first 25 Fort Lewis students in attendance (Fort Lewis College, with > 4,000 students is about a mile from the church), by my count there were a total of 17 in the audience, none (except the presenter and a friend) under 40. At age 72, I suspect that I was in the younger 50%. OTOH, this session was one of 5 (plus Sunday morning) being presented over the weekend; it is possible that the audience size was better in the other sessions.
The senior pastor introduced Joe with the wry observation that there were “missing links” in the audience (he meant not in the audience). Clearly he was disappointed with the turnout.
The primary pastor, Mike Williams Ph-D, did not appear to be present.
In the too-often posture of “Christian fellowship,” I was not greeted or acknowledged as I came in (before the lecture began) and took a seat in the pews. At the conclusion of Joe’s talk I asked him a question to which he gave a one word answer.
In advance of the lecture, I had emailed Joe a number of questions, all relating to the age of the earth, which I asked him to address. To the best of my knowledge, he did not do so. The session was to start at 9:00 with another session starting at 10:30 on another dreary YEC subject. I assumed he’d take questions. I was wrong. He spoke until 10:35 and then took a 15 minute break. He did provide cards where questions could be written out, but it was clear he did not want to handle them on an immediate basis. I passed one in, but with better things to occupy my Saturday than to listen (again) to the screwy philosophies of Ellen White, I left.)
Joe Sebeny introduced himself as a “Rocket Scientist.” He is a young guy (to this 72-year old), personable, a pretty good (and persuasive) speaker. He claimed two BS degrees, one in physics and one in Aeronautical & Astronautical Engineering from MIT as well as “Ph.D studies.” I did not hear any dates given for these. His employment is that of an engineer with Raytheon Missile Systems. He claimed 23 years of experience in the Defense Industry and 10 years of conducting seminars on “the Bible and true science.”
(I have no reasons to doubt those claims.)
“The Bible and true science are in harmony.”
(I don’t personally know any Christian, conservative or liberal, who would challenge that statement. But what Joe meant was “The Bible as I interpret it (literally) and true science are in harmony.”)
There are two philosophies, creation and evolution
(Joe made the usual YEC mistake of committing the fallacy of the excluded middle).
The creation model involved processes not now taking place.
Genesis 1 is history and is chronological.
(Joe calls the big bang an “explosion.” Most physicists (I think) don’t do that. But it IS a popular way of thinking of it. An “explosion,” of course, presupposes a space into which something explodes, and space was (by the latest thinking) created as part of the process. But this is a nit).
Joe referred frequently to “the unobserved past.”
Joe argued that there are three fundamental principles of science, and that all three were consistent with creation and did not support evolution.
2. The 1st law of thermodynamics
3. The 2nd law of thermodynamics
(note – Joe may have tightly defined the word “evolution” in the previous night’s lecture. He sure did not in this one. In context, I think he meant by the word when he did use it was the general meaning “we are here by accident through a long (billions of years) process from chemicals to humanity and there was nothing divine involved, either at the beginning or during the process.” If I substitute the phrase “philosophical naturalism” for “evolution” in his presentation it makes sense. It seems that MIT did not teach well the concepts of methodological naturalism. )
Joe made three points, all of which show that the 3 principles of science support creation:
1. Where did all the information come from? Had to be there in the beginning. No natural process creates information.
2. The 1st and 2nd laws are PROVEN and cannot be broken, therefore the universe could not have created itself. (Joe is clearly not a fan of Karl Popper)
3. The 2nd law PROVES that the universe must have had a beginning.
(Joe set up and demolished a few strawmen here, as well as other places, but I’ll pass over those.)
The theistic evolutionist (any non-YECer) does not worship the God of the Bible.
(suspecting Joe would say this, I had asked him to at least add a caveat that he did not, thereby, challenge the Christianity of a TE. He did not do so; it was a flat statement. Some time much later he did, in an unrelated part of the lecture, mutter (literally) such a caveat. And, via email, Joe has asserted that while he thinks TEs are “inconsistent” and “doing the cause of Christ a great disservice,” he does not challenge their Christianity.)
Joe’s claim: The universe, as well as the earth, is young (6007 + or – a few years).
We don’t observe evolving galaxies, only completed ones.
We don’t observe evolving stars, only completed ones.
Earth was created on day 1 as a “big ball of water.” (Joe probably meant a big ball covered with water).
He brought up Hugh Ross’s views and dissed them.
Many comparisons of scientific statements with Bible verses. Very persuasive here.
The Bible is inerrant, true in all its parts. One flaw would invalidate the whole.
“God made” has to mean “God made quickly.”
Stars are supposed to form from gas clouds. But gas clouds expand, not contract. So that theory is invalid and so stars had to be created intact. Therefore – recent creation.
We have NEVER seen a star being formed. Cited Alfren (1976), DeYoung (2000), both of whom are YECers (I think) and Whipple (date not shown).
(I guess I’ve never seen a mountain being formed, by that criteria. <G>)
Science deals only in the present.
We don’t understand star formation – therefore recent creation.
There is no accepted explanation for the formation of the solar system, therefore recent creation; the solar system is designed. Cites Kepler as an authority here.
Argues the special conditions of the earth-moon-sun system as evidence of design and therefore evidence of recent creation (again, fallacy of the excluded middle).
Recommends the Moody Bible Institute Science Series films (I had thought better of MBI than this).
The tenet that the earth is not young challenges the veracity of scripture.
The geological column was caused by Noah’s flood. (Glenn – note that he did not challenge the column’s existence. This may be a change in the YEC strategy).
Scripture says Adam and Eve were made AT THE BEGINNING, and so the model of a young earth and old universe is falsified. Q. E. D.
If you say otherwise, you are saying Jesus Christ was a liar. (Again, no caveat).
Scientists are sinners just as we. (OK).
Liberal theology (I think he means anything not YEC) compromises scripture.
Discussed the word “yom.” That word cannot be used figuratively before it has been used literally. Since Genesis is book one, it must be the oldest written, and therefore when it says “yom” it must mean a literal day.
(Modern scholarship says Genesis was written fairly recently; some conservative scholars differ. If the latter are right he has a point here).
“When I read Genesis as a young child, I understood it. That’s how it should be read as an adult. Literally.
“Nobody prior to the modern age (he did not quantify this) questioned the biblical chronology or the 24 hour days of Genesis 1.”
(words escape me here).
While the year, month and day are “natural,” the “week” is God-given in Genesis. The proof of this is Ex 20:11. Expects the ACLU to sue on this eventually. (probably joking here, but it was hard to tell).
There are absolutely no gaps in the genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11. 6007 plus or minus a few years at most. The evolution model adds millions (actually billions, but who is counting) of years of death before Adam and Eve. But death was not present before that time – for there was no time before that time.
(Joe carefully stayed away from the possibility of death between Adam’s fiat creation and the expulsion from Eden, although one of the questions I had emailed to him asked about this. <G>)
If you say otherwise, you are attacking the Bible and doing great damage to the cause of Christ.
Evolutionists (who are they? He did not define the word.) claim the earth’s age of 4.5 BY is “fact.”
(Joe does not understand, in spite of his training at MIT, that “fact” to a scientist is not the same as “absolute proven unquestionable truth.” Just as the physicist’s word “work” does not encompass a person standing still with an 80 pound bag of cement on his shoulder, “fact” is a term which means “generally accepted within numerical boundaries of precision to be used in subsequent experiments and computations.” It is a “fact” that the earth is round if one wishes to make an ocean voyage. It is NOT a “fact” that the earth is round if one is driving up a jeep trail in the San Juans, just 50 miles north of Durango,)
Scripture pinpoints the errors of the evolutionists. 2nd Peter 3:3-6. Therefore evolutionists are the “scoffers Peter is writing about.” Therefore recent creation.
Joe then turned to radiometric dating. Used the candle illustration (never pointed out that candles burn more or less linearly while radioactive isotopes don’t). But the points he made were valid enough. More on this later.
Science HEAVILY favors a recent creation. There are HUNDREDS of physical processes which show this. Slide shown with at least 58 listed.
(He used a log scale to illustrate five of these, not identified), With the log scale, which I must assume most non-technical people are not used to, the discrepancy between 6007 years and 4.5 BY does not look (to the eye) like all that much. Joe has apparently never read Tufte’s book on the creation of graphics which do not mislead an audience. Or “How to Lie with statistics,” a classic book (forget the author) of fifty years ago. That sort of stuff was required reading at Carnegie Tech – could MIT have ignored it?).
Creation Scientists publish “lots of papers.” (He did not mention where. Has there EVER been one in the American Journal of Physics? I think not. Has ANY reputable scientist -- I define reputable as simply one who does not subscribe to the YEC nonsense -- EVER published in a YEC “journal?” Actually – yes. But Glenn Morton subsequently saw the fallacies involved, and repudiated those papers. For which he has taken more grief from the YECs than any person of integrity ought to experience.)
Evidences that the universe is young. Galaxies wind themselves up too fast, outside slow – inside fast. Therefore the universe is young.
(By my calculations the Milky Way galaxy has rotated about 50 or 60 times since it came into being. By Joe’s calculation it has yet to take the first tick of a clock).
Comets crumble too quickly --- therefore recent creation. Joe did not mention the Oort cloud model.
It has been shown that one can change plant matter into coal in a few hours – therefore RC (recent creation). Similarly, oil. Similarly petrified wood.
British Columbia strata are folded and not fractured, therefore RC.
A fossilized Teddy Bear was found somewhere, therefore RC.
Polystrate fossils prove RC.
The earths magnetic field decay is too fast, therefore RC.
(Joe carefully stayed away from the evidences of field reversal. and, of course, the incredibly inept work done by the professor, Thomas Barnes, at UT El Paso ? on the source data. I really thought that this argument, like moon dust, had been buried by even AIG.)
Cited with approval the work and writings of Humphreys. Asserted that Humphrey’s creationist model had accurately predicted certain findings of the space probes.
Seafloor sedimentation evidence supports RC.
Joe turned to radiometric dating. Described accurately the three boundary conditions and assumptions,
amount of daughter element present at the beginning,
decay rate constant,
which surround any such measures. (Did not mention the absence of short life radioactives on the planet. This was another evidence against RC that I had asked him about.) Asserted that researcher get many “wrong” answers, publish only those who agree. Asserted that many researchers in radiometrics “deliberately lie.” Said that their techniques do not work on objects of known age.
All coal has C14 – therefore RC
Top layers of the Grand Canyon are older than the bottom layers, therefore RC.
Not enough helium argument. New research (by ICR’s RATE project) into decay rates. “Cutting edge.”
The creation model – very fast radioactive decay -- unknown mechanism -- in days 1-3 and again during the Flood of Noah’s time. Joe identified this as a hypothesis, no more. (I would call it a speculation, but no matter).
Helium in the rocks. 1km is 58%. 3 km is 19%. therefore RC. (I could not follow his argument here).
Other arguments –
the receding moon
population studies (I almost choked on this one)
Red blood cells found in dino bones
Anything not directly measured is not a fact. Summary – trust the Bible first. Not science.
In summary. I sat through a session like this put on by ICR back in 1988. It was nonsense then. It has not changed. Its advocates are, I must assume this, sincere. They are wrong, and their efforts dishonor both science and Christianity.