When once the Pope had lost control of some of the mightiest kingdoms of Europe to the Reformation in the sixteenth century; he realized that the old methods of extorting obedience and plunder from the nations was no longer working as it once had, and sought for new methods to maintain his empire and to regain its lost dominance of Europe.
Since the Bible had been the weapon which had emancipated the nations from his captivity, the attempt was then begun to discredit the Bible through a counterfeit scholarship; and thus a new field of study came into being, called “biblical criticism”, which consists of two parts. The “lower” criticism was designed to impugn the authenticity of the texts used by the Reformers. The “higher” criticism aimed its guns at the Bible itself, alleging discrepancies, contradictions and errors in the Biblical text.
These attacks on God’s word were intended to undermine the doctrines of inspiration and preservation and give the lie to the claim that we should follow the Scriptures – in opposition to the traditions of men. They were highly successful, and today most Protestant seminaries and ministers no longer teach that the Greek and Hebrew texts or the vernacular Bibles of the Reformers accurately represent the infallible word of God as originally written. Only the long-lost original autographs were inspired and infallible. The critics of Scripture have won. The modern Bible is radically different from the Bible of the Reformers.
However, in the seventeenth, and even in the eighteenth century, faith in the Word of God remained strong, and the Protestant states were putting up a vigorous defense of their independence from Rome. It was time for the powers of darkness to attack the word of God in a new way, using the emerging physical sciences. Early in the nineteenth century, new theories of the history of the earth were proposed by scientists who rejected biblical authority, and in particular the biblical chronology.
According to these men, the biblical account of recent creation and worldwide deluge did not account for the facts of geology. The earth was in fact much older than the Bible says. This “old-earth” view was accepted by two opposing parties, the “catastrophists” and the “uniformitarians”. Catastrophism, discounting the biblical record entirely, claims that there have been numerous violent events in the past that have shaped the earth as we know it. Uniformitarianism is summarized in the words, “The present is the key to the past.” It assumes that the world has developed and changed very slowly, as it does today, and that there have been no radical Divine interventions in the history of the world, such as the global flood. It seeks to explain the facts of geology in terms of present processes, without resorting to catastrophes.
The catastrophists lost the fight; but the old-earth theory, though bravely opposed by the Christian “Scriptural Geologists”, won almost universal acceptance.
When Darwin’s The Origin of Species hit the presses in 1859, the assumptions of an old earth and uniformitarianism were so well-established that it was easy for Darwin to make use of them and extend them into the field of biology. What is the theory of evolution but the melding of these key ideas?
The Bible is a book of myths, and is irrelevant to scientific inquiry.
The earth is much older than we ever thought.
Change in nature is not sudden and dramatic, but gradual and imperceptible.
The primary evidence adduced for the age of the earth was the presence of thousands of thin layers in the sedimentary rocks that cover most of the earth’s surface. It was argued that these layers were laid down one at a time at a rate of perhaps one layer per year, based on observed rates of accumulation of sediments. This is of course a highly dubious method, as it is pure speculation. And it is plain that fossils are not produced under such conditions; for to be fossilized, a creature must be deeply and rapidly buried, before it can be eaten by wild animals, or decompose.
But the chief problem with it is that it conflicts with the Bible’s accurate historical record. Nevertheless, people who want to discount the Bible are ready to believe anything that gives them an excuse for doing so. The new geology and the doctrine of evolution require millions of years, so millions of years there shall be!
All the much-vaunted “dating methods” of modern geologists rely on assumptions – not facts. Let me illustrate with an old army story. A sergeant is passing through the kitchen when he sees a huge pile of peeled potatoes, and a PFC working away at adding to the pile. Impressed, he asks, “How long have you been at this?” The PFC looks at his watch and answers, “About ten minutes.” Amazed, the officer exclaims, “What an energetic soldier you are! How did you peel so many in so short a time?” The private replies,”I didn’t. That pile was here when I started.” Everything depends on assumptions.
When it comes to dating methods, scientists are very good at measuring infinitesimal amounts of substances and elements; but they generally proceed on an assumption that they cannot prove. That assumption is uniformitarianism. Past processes are assumed to have proceeded at rates that are currently observed. But why should this be true? No reason can be given. The original quantities and concentrations of substances are unknown. There is therefore no such thing as “dating” except of events for which a historical record exists. If it were true that the world has existed for a million years, there would be no way to know it.
Fortunately, the God who made us knows all about the origin and history of the world He has made, and has left us an accurate and sufficient written record. Therefore, the present is not the key to the past, but the past, recorded in the book of Genesis, is the key to the present.
Now, what about the fossils? What are they? Where did they come from? When were they formed? Can we know the ages of the rocks in which they are found? What do we actually know?
We know that the earth is only about 6,000 years old from the chronology imbedded in the Old Testament, which takes us from the year of creation to Christ in an unbroken chain spanning 4,000 + years. There is thus no time for the kind of gradual accumulation of sedimentary layers through local flooding that old-earthers claim.
Besides, sedimentary rock is hardened sediment. The sedimentary rocks are found all over the earth. Was there ever a time when the whole world was covered with water to such a depth that all these layers could have been laid down at once? Yes! In the year 1656 A.M. We have an eyewitness account of the whole event, which lasted exactly one year, in Genesis 6-8.
But if Noah’s flood really happened, then what do the fossils represent? They are the bones and other remains of plants and animals destroyed in that violent catastrophe; slaughtered in huge numbers, buried rapidly, and preserved by mineralization.
This is the answer to all our questions about the dating of fossils, and the single year in which they were created was 1656 Anno Mundi, about 4,400 years ago.
Howard Douglas King