General Question

ButterJMichaels's avatar

Why do Christian fundamentalists believe that the world was only created 6,000 to 10,000 years ago when there is solid evidence that the Earth is 4.54 billion years old?

Asked by ButterJMichaels (48 points ) January 1st, 2013

There are scientific reports of the earth’s age, as well as record of human existence stretching back 15,000 to 20,000 years ago. How can Christian fundamentalists completely ignore these cold, hard facts?

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91 Answers

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jrpowell's avatar

Nothing good can come of this.

Accept that you think they are wrong (I do too) and just agree to never to have them over for Thanksgiving. They won’t change so deal with it or delete them from Facebook.

poisonedantidote's avatar

Is this a genuine question?

If you know Earth is 4.5 billion years old, and know they believe it is 6000 years old or so, then I would assume you know they get that date based on counting the ages of people in the bible, and probably also know that they are given conflicting information by their religious authority figures, and bad science trying to disprove radiometric dating.

I would imagine if you are informed enough to ask this question this way, that you know the answer.

Normally, I would side with you, and would use this question as an opportunity to push my own secular agenda. However, due to yesterdays first question being on religion, and what happened in that question, I will mix it up a bit.

How can you claim the scientific evidence is solid?

For all you know, I am god, and I created the universe, Earth, and all life 15 seconds ago, and everything you know is an implanted memory.

Furthermore, science is based on assumptions. It assumes that the universe is real, and assumes that we can learn something about it.

I would ask, how can you be so sure the science is solid, when it is based on a philosophy that is based on assumptions.

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RareDenver's avatar

“science is based on assumptions”

No. It’s not.

RareDenver's avatar

That’s like saying evolution is just a “theory”

dabbler's avatar

“science is based on assumptions”
Yes, actually, it is. At the base of any pile of scientific thinking are some premises.

In the case of evolution, there are premises about the methods used to date things, and there are a lot of interpolations between ‘known’ species that assume species C came from species A, through missing link B.

I’m a big fan of science and what it can do, but to work with science properly one has to keep in mind its limitations and vulnerabilities.

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poisonedantidote's avatar

@RareDenver I don’t mean that scientific bodies of work are based on assumption, they are based on evidence.

However, the actual philosophy that we call science, is based on 3 assumptions. You have to assume that the universe is real, you have to assume that we can learn something about it, and you have to assume that the laws of physics will not suddenly change from one moment to another.

If you disagree, please prove the universe is real, and that you are not a brain in a vat, and prove that the laws of physics will never change.

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Shippy's avatar

I can’t debate your question since I do not know so many cold hard fact you do apparently. Would it make a difference if it changed Christians, to you I mean?

elbanditoroso's avatar

The simple answer is that religion is based on belief, and belief is never based on fact. So if people maintain a belief system (not just christianity, but any religion), then by definition they are making a choice not to believe in facts.

It’s that simple.

All the rest of the discussion is garbage. The bottom line is that religion is essentially incompatible with reality.

JenniferP's avatar

I am not going to get in a debate over this question because I just came from one that went on and on. But I will say this much. I don’t believe in evolution but at the same time, I know that the earth has been around a lot longer than that. Those aren’t literal days.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@poisonedantidote The three “assumptions” you mention aren’t really assumptions. It’s true that they are philosophical positions, but philosophy is not just a matter of assuming or asserting. There are arguments for each of the conclusions upon which science bases itself.

I think you know perfectly well that a Fluther post could not be both long enough to exhaustively demonstrate that all three premises are true while also being short enough to read, but that does not mean that such demonstrations are not available.

Those who are truly interested can start with Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason and move forward from there, though they should not ignore the important preceding works of Locke, Berkeley, and Hume (among others).

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

<facepalm> What if I told you calculations according to the bible puts the earth at 12,658 years old? Would you ever believe that? No? Didn’t think so.

Questions like this only lead to both sides arguing about their rightness, and NEVER lead to anyone changing their minds. Lets just stop doing things like this.

jerv's avatar

Those who I have talked to who hold that belief often also hold the belief also think that the Bible was originally written in English as opposed to Greek or Aramaic.

However, in similar discussions in the past, I have lobbed this grenade in; “If a day is defined as how long it takes for a planet to rotate on it’s axis, how long is a day when there are no planets or stars? And if God is all-powerful, who are we to tell Him how long a day is; could he not make His day as long as He pleases?”. As in the thread alluded to by @JenniferP above, that simple question never gets answered either.

@JenniferP I think that one’s position on both evolution and on the age of the Earth would be equally dependent on how literally one takes certain passages. The inconsistency (picking and choosing) there is confusing to me.

@elbanditoroso Not necessarily true. There are those who have religious beliefs that conform with observable facts as much as any scientific theory. Their beliefs do not conflict with science as they do not attempt to address issues that are observable/provable through scientific means.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate If you said that, I’d ask for your numbers—not out of doubt, but out of interest. Your unwillingness to give other people any credit for being open to new information is part of the very problem about which you are complaining. By answering your own question in the negative without first giving others a chance to reply, you perpetuate the cycle of antagonism.

Kardamom's avatar

Because their entire philosophy of life is based upon what is written (or how they interpret) what is written in the Bible. Their religion, and most other religions, are based upon faith. They have no reason (other than to satisfy your curiosity) to believe anything other than what is written/interpreted in the Bible. If they didn’t do that, they wouldn’t be Christians anymore, and the idea of foregoing one’s fundamental beliefs (no matter what side of the coin you’re on) is a huge propsition for anyone. Giving up your belief system is basically saying that everything you ever thought and knew to be correct was wrong. Most people, Christians or otherwise, would not want to go down that road.

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JenniferP's avatar

I am not debating but also want to clear something up from the last “discussion.” I know the definition of evolution and do not believe that one animal turns into another. It seems that I didn’t word things exactly right and my sentence structure was somewhat awkward. It was late and I didn’t communicate well. I was just looking at a pamphlet today on science and evolution and there are some very good answers if anyone wants to know what the pamphlet is and wants to read it they can email me. There is also a good book that can explain things better than I can.

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jerv's avatar

@JenniferP But does it answer the simple question I put forth in the other thread, or does it make an erroneous assumption and use that as a Straw Man? If it does, I am interested; if not, then no thanks, as I do my best to avoid immersion in fallacies.

JenniferP's avatar

@livelaughlove21-You guessed wrong. I meant a science book. You guys with your condescension.

Jerv-I don’t remember what you asked in the other thread and you never answered me about life coming from non life. Scientists have never been able to recreate life and they have tried. All I know is that you said something about bacteria. If you want the counterargument google it on the internet because we both know it can be found there. Or email me and I will tell you how to get the book. But if you are trying to bait me again, I will not bite this time.

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jerv's avatar

@JenniferP I started here and you still have not addressed it. For the (at least) fifth time; Where does the Theory of Evolution claim to get into how life began instead of simply detailing what has happened since? The closest you came ot addressing it is saying, “Well you won’t get your answer @jerv because I am going to delete my account here.”.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@JenniferP Oh no, the burden of evidence is not on me to read any book that can explain things better than you. (aside from the problem that if you have beliefs about something, you better be able to talk about it inside and fucking out or what’s the point?) Not unless, creationists read and understand scientific texts about evolution. I daresay they do not, most people don’t.

@dabbler I agree with you and like your comment about science’s limitation. I generally don’t make anything in my life about religion vs. science as I think that’s a false duality but when it comes to specifics like evolution, fossils are not put there as a liberal conspiracy and christianity is just a religion out of hundreds, its arrogance to the contrary always surprises me.

JenniferP's avatar

Dabbler-Go to JW.org and there is a book you can download called “How did life get here? By Evolution or Creation?” Some things to know about JWs. They have a science department. Our organization is made up entirely of volunteers and Scientists who became JWs either quit or retired from their jobs when they became JWs and went to Bethel to work together. They have an advantage that other scientists don’t. They don’t let egos get in the way of the pursuit of science. They are not about getting their names in a the latest science journal or making money. They are not even paid for their work.

They put out this book and simplified things. Not everyone is as educated as others and they try to appeal to “everyone.” They describe things but don’t throw around big words. That is how it should be. It shouldn’t be about talking over other people’s heads and laughing at them because they don’t recognize a word.

Don’t think that you are “above” reading it. @jerv-You are looking for answers so badly. Go and read it. Somehow, I think that you are more interested in the words coming directly out of my mouth. But it should be sufficient to get the answers from the book. I could always read it and quote from it here but it would likely be very long.

@Simone_De_Beauvoir What creationist are you talking about? Classic example of someone assuming something about another. Yes, the burden of evidence is on you to read it if you are truly seeking an answer.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@JenniferP Oh no I know you’re with JWs, no worries. Basically, I am simplifying (surely, there are others out there)...there are people who care about evolution, and those that care about creation of Earth and for some reason, the latter think their journey has bearing one way or another on evolution, which is not a belief system. It’s just as futile for evolutionists to try to change the mind of a person who really believes the earth is young. I suspect most people who believe in christianity of any sort don’t mind evolution. Anyway…@WillWorkForChocolate is right, these questions don’t ever go anywhere but why can’t I have fun on a New Year’s Day? Sorry, you’re new and I shouldn’t play. But this question like all other viral questions on Fluther are not about answers.

JenniferP's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Who is saying that the earth is young? Anyway, the brochure on JW.org is called “The Origins of Life-Questions Worth Asking.”

I can guarantee you that I do not want to get my ideas taught in the school system.. You are thinking of some other religion.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@JenniferP My god, people. People say it. I’m not talking about you. There were comments deleted even on this question but you can go look for millions of other fluther questions where people say it. Do you not know how many people think this and how they’re putting their insanity into schools? Come on.

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TheProfoundPorcupine's avatar

First @JenniferP you should come back and do not let answers to a particular topic put you off.

My Masters is in religion and archaeology and this meant I looked at various religions going from the Sumerians to the main global religions, to those that believe in aliens and a UFO is going to rescue them. Out of all of those religions the main thing I was taught was performing epoche without which you would struggle to get through the course.

Who are we to judge what anybody else believes? If a person believes that we all come from the planet Zog, then fair enough, if people believe that Godzilla is true, then fair enough.

Having different beliefs is what makes us interesting. I had people on my course who quit because they simply could not stand the likes of Freud being mentioned and they threw away 3 years of their life by doing so, but I admired them for sticking to their beliefs and feeling strongly enough about it to do that.

Shippy's avatar

@TheProfoundPorcupine Not being an Historian, then, is it fair to say that this is a great question if it had been changed to read the same with “Religion” in the title and not “Christians” Since then Islam, Judaism and so on would also then be debunked?

TheProfoundPorcupine's avatar

@Shippy it would be better if it was just religion because there seems to be a tendency to just say Christianity with these kinds of questions with it being completely forgotten how Judaism and Islam all talk about the same people and order as you find in Christianity. Even more traditional religions, or ancient ones, have a year zero from which everything evolved so it would also throw them off.

It’s quite interesting how a reasonable number of people were quite happy to believe the Mayan date about the end of the world (whilst ignoring certain parts that spoke about it being a new era) but then they will say that other dates such as how old the world is are just people being silly.

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bob_'s avatar

Because they are not smart enough to understand that a book that is thousands of years old, and that has been translated over and over, should not be taken literally.

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ButterJMichaels's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate Is that really what you’re seeing? In my opinion, this discussion has been relatively healthy, and even when a user supporting one side of the issue tried to leave, the other side asked politely for the user to come back and even offered advice so that the discussion could grow. To me, that’s what the purpose of this site is, and it seemed to work pretty well in this case.

When I posted this, my intention wasn’t to try to tell people that their opinions are wrong. Science and Religion, when boiled down to their core, are both about finding answers. People believe in God, and who am I to say that they are wrong; I haven’t seen anything to disprove that God exists. But I don’t understand how tangible evidence you can feel and touch, linking human civilization back 20,000 years back and further, can be ignored. That was my only goal. I definitely did not mean to offend anyone. Thanks for making my first question posted pretty amazing everyone!

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filmfann's avatar

It is simply misplaced faith. They don’t understand God, and accept what is described in the Bible without realizing that God doesn’t have the same day limitations we all do.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

The reason some or maybe many Christians believe that because they are thinking as finite being and not as an infinite being. To someone who was there in the beginning and will be there long after this world is cosmic duct a day could be 100,000 years, 10,000,000 years, or 5 billion years. People get hung up on the earthly 24 hour thing. Who is to say God was using earth time? If God was using the year span of Jupiter than the time line many Christians want to use would be off. Satan has done his job and have many Christians who don’t spend enough time in the Word bamboozledThe reason some or maybe many Christians believe that because they are thinking as finite being and not as an infinite being. To someone who was there in the beginning and will be there long after this world is cosmic duct a day could be 100,000 years, 10,000,000 years, or 5 billion years. People get hung up on the earthly 24 hour thing. Who is to say God was using earth time? If God was using the year span of Jupiter than the time line many Christians want to use would be off. Satan has done his job and have many Christians who don’t spend enough time in the Word bamboozled

Nullo's avatar

I believe that the most common method is to tally up ages in genealogies and sorta ballpark it from there. It also depends on how how literally you’re taking the Bible. Genesis states six days, and there’s nothing in the text – that I’ve found, at least – to suggest that those are any longer than a person might reasonably consider to be a day.—The most reasonable explanation

I used to worry about it, then I realized that that it’s actually not important: the age of Creation doesn’t influence my daily life, nor does my faith hinge on it; I’ll find out when I get home.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate It doesn’t matter whether you were just talking about Fluther or not. The point remains that your attitude contributes to the antagonism you claim to despise. Nor do I agree that the conversations devolve in the way you say. It is true that there are always answers along those lines. Those answers, however, are not the whole of the conversation.

The threads of conversation on this site consist of many strands. You choose to focus on the bickering, but I have seen plenty of open-minded debates occurring here on Fluther. I have even had my mind changed (and may have changed a mind or two myself). Besides, conversation is the only means we have to promote understanding—regardless of whether or not it breeds agreement. I refuse to accept your defeatism.

@Nullo There’s nothing in the English text, perhaps. But the Hebrew word יום (yom)—the one translated as “day” in Genesis—need not refer to a period of 24 hours. Given that the opening chapters must be understood at least somewhat metaphorically if we are to understand how God created light before any source for it and why the two creation stories we get are mutually inconsistent, it seems that your stance of “it’s not important to my faith or the goal of living according to it” is the correct one.

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tedd's avatar

Probably the same reason they would consider DNA evidence the law of the land, yet disbelieve the evolutionary theory DNA implicitly confirms.

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mazingerz88's avatar

FOR the OP – Because fundamentalists exercise their right to believe whatever they want and ignore things they choose to disagree with, whether it makes sense or not to them or to others. It’s all about personal choice really.

With regards to the talk of “leaving because of flirting accusations”...and I thought Fluther was getting all boring! : )

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Bellatrix's avatar

[Mod says…] Much of the discussion here was off-topic and I have modded it. If you feel the discussion I have deleted is important, please post a question in Meta where it can be debated without derailing another member’s question.

@JennyPrince @JenniferP if you have received an inappropriate message from another member please contact the Manager who can look into this for you. The Manager and Moderation team do take such things seriously but we can’t act unless you let us know there is a problem.

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augustlan's avatar

[mod says] Please remember: This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

plethora's avatar

There are many Christians that do believe in the “young earth” theory….for the same reason much of the world hung onto the flat earth theory at one time. They didnt know any better. The earth is about 15–17 billions years old, and the Big Bang was most likely the creation point of this universe. See “Reasons To Believe : Where Modern Science & Faith Converge
www.reasons.org/ Hugh Ross, the founder of Reasons To Believe is an astrophysicist, formerly atheist, then Christian.

mattbrowne's avatar

The main reason why Christian fundamentalists believe that the world was only created 6,000 to 10,000 years ago was given by @elbanditoroso‘s answer above and I quote the relevant part

”... if people maintain a belief system, then by definition they are making a choice not to believe in facts. The bottom line is that religion is essentially incompatible with reality.”

There would be fewer Christian fundamentalists believing that the world was only created 6,000 to 10,000 years ago if more were aware of @jerv‘s answer that

“there are those who have religious beliefs that conform with observable facts as much as any scientific theory. Their beliefs do not conflict with science as they do not attempt to address issues that are observable/provable through scientific means.”

But in this whole creation-evolution controversy in the US most pro-evolution people seem to endorse and communicate @elbanditoroso‘s view. Religious people fear that they have to give up religion, if they endorse evolution. The debate becomes more and more polarized.

In Europe we don’t have this polarized debate. There isn’t this extreme ridicule of religious people over here. The current President of Germany is a former Lutheran pastor for example. He knows the real age of our planet. Two thirds of the German biology teachers are Christians and all of them teach evolution at school without exception. One third are atheists, but very few of them attack Christianity in this harsh way we see in the US.

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Crashsequence2012's avatar

It’s the same effect that’s caused by CEO pay:

When you start to deal in numbers so high only specialist professionals can understand the masses start to get bent out of shape.

Paradox25's avatar

There are scientific reports of the earth’s age, as well as record of human existence stretching back 15,000 to 20,000 years ago. How can Christian fundamentalists completely ignore these cold, hard facts?

The cherry picking fallacy is likely the biggest reason, and this is usually motivated by special interests of some sort. Young earth creationists are not the only ones guilty of doing this either. People do have a tendancy to believe what they want to believe, or a tendancy to obstuct what could be dangerous to their credibility, and this exists in many areas of science, and even legal issues.

The other two reasons are much less common possibilities, with one being Last Thursdayism, and the other being the Omphalos hypothesis. Basically both hypothesises claim that God is fooling us into believing that the earth is billions of years old. Most young earth creationists claim that they’re not in the Last Thusdayism or Omphalos camp, but yet will frequently use the omnipotent God can do whatever He wants argument when confronted with strong evidence that counters their claims anyways.

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Donald_Gudehus's avatar

poisonedantidote claims that science is based on assumptions. That is wrong; good science always questions assumptions.

mattbrowne's avatar

Science does both. Assumptions are seen as good when science can predict future events.

jerv's avatar

The key difference is that when science proves an assumption wrong, they no longer treat it as truth.

mattbrowne's avatar

Yes, that’s exactly what’s wrong with religious fundamentalism.

plethora's avatar

@ButterJMichaels I have been away from Fluther for months and just dropped back in and have not read this thread. Might you be willing to tell what you mean by the term “christian fundamentalist”?

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