New Sherwood

Bishop Robert Vasa challenges “old earth” dogma

This is very big news in my opinion. At long last, we have an American Catholic bishop challenging the “old earth” dogma that is required to support various theories of macro-evolution. The evolutionists – including many Catholics, unfortunately – are going to flip over this, so he needs our prayers. Writing the Catholic Sentinel to express your support wouldn’t hurt either. God bless Bishop Vasa and may his tribe increase!

“There is a certain reluctance on my part and, I suspect, on the part of many in our western culture to give any real serious consideration to the possibility that the earth is much younger than the scientific community would have us believe.

The categorical rejection in most circles of anything even faintly resembling a questioning of the doctrine of evolution is met with nothing short of ridicule and scorn. One almost forgets that evolution is still referred to as a theory, not as a doctrine as I have done above …”

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July 5, 2007 - Posted by | Uncategorized

14 Comments »

  1. +JMJ+

    This is the first time I’ve read anything like this. (I can imagine why other people who have found evidence and reasonable arguments for the theory would try to keep a low profile.) The first thing that came to mind for me was the effect on SF books and movies: if the “young earth” theory becomes widely accepted, then SF books set in an “old earth” or other “old” planets will become so dated, so fast.

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    Comment by Marissa | July 5, 2007 | Reply

  2. Very big news indeed, and welcome too. I just sent His Excellency an email note of appreciation.

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    Comment by The Western Confucian | July 5, 2007 | Reply

  3. Jeff:

    Are you familiar with Dr. Larry Azar’s “Evolution and Other Fairy Tales”? This is perhaps one of the most definitive and scholarly arguments against evolution that I have seen. I will be posting a book review shortly as well commentary a couple of prominent scientists supporting Dr. Azar’s position.

    A good friend of mine is hoping to travel to Rome on behalf of the Kolbe Center for the Study of Creation, to present Dr. Azar’s book to Pope Benedict XVI. The Holy Father is very interested in this subject.

    P.S. Good to have you back!

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    Comment by Kimberly | July 6, 2007 | Reply

  4. Oh dear. You are kidding, right?

    I recently looked through a science book we were reviewing for next year’s homeschool curriculum. It was my first experience with the Answers in Genesis group. It was almost comical. I may not be a Darwinist but I certainly don’t subscribe to the claims that the Earth is only six to eight thousand years old.

    I can barely even read these theories without freezing up like one of Harry Mudd’s robots.

    Bishop Vasa says “I am finding it increasingly difficult, however, to believe that He took 50 or 75 or 114 million years to make it what it is.”

    Why not? God is eternal, is He not? I would imagine, to God, time is a rather fleeting thing.

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    Comment by Michael Inman | July 6, 2007 | Reply

  5. Marissa: Keen observation! Belief in an old earth has become an integral, and even essential, component of modern culture. To question this belief is to challenge the underpinnings of modernity itself.

    TWC: Thanks for sending him the note and for linking to this story on your blog. I should investigate the writings of Immanuel Velikovsky myself.

    Kimberly: No, I’m not familiar with the book, but it looks like something I ought to be reading. I’m looking forward to your review! I’ve spent some time with Gerry Keane of the Kolbe Center and have supported his work for years. I don’t suppose he is the gentleman going to Rome??

    Michael: Thanks for proving Bishop Vasa’s point when he says ” … anything even faintly resembling a questioning of the doctrine of evolution is met with nothing short of ridicule and scorn”. Although it would have been nice if you addressed the content of his argument instead.

    As for God being eternal and outside of time … from that perspective neither an old earth nor a young earth is unthinkable. So we’re back to extracting what we can from science and revelation.

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    Comment by Jeff Culbreath | July 7, 2007 | Reply

  6. Jeff, you’re overreacting to say I proved Bishop Vasa’s point. Must you assume that because I don’t hold to the untenable creationist theories that I automatically believe in evolution? Can one not question creationism without endorsing Darwinism? I can believe that the earth is millions of years old without having to believe we came from monkeys, can’t I?

    It’s not Bishop Vada’s criticism of evolution but the young Earth creationism I meet with scorn and ridicule, as well should you and everybody else.

    God may be outside of time. The earth is not. Physics is physics. Darwinism is not scientifically provable but it’s fairly easy to prove the earth is significantly older than a few thousand years. I tend to believe (without compromising my Faith) in hard science and not some hopeful theory of a time-warp that caused all light/distance calculations and other geological dating methods to be suspect? Is it like God just threw all this in to have a little fun with scientists or something? Or was it a devilish plot by Satan to cause error to spread throughout the world by “planting” all these things that only seem to be millions of years old? Really. It’s the fundamentalist version of tinfoil hattery.

    If I’m going to “challenge the underpinnings of modernity itself”, I think I’m going to do it in a way easier to defend.

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    Comment by Michael Inman | July 7, 2007 | Reply

  7. Mr. Inman
    God may be outside of time. The earth is not. Physics is physics.
    But God is not bound by the laws of physics, and He is not bound by the laws of physics when it comes to the generation of complex bodies. Besides, does God need that extra time to “work” via secondary causality? No, he doesn’t. So it raises the question of what would be the point of taking that much time. It’s rather purposeless, just as a continually “expanding” universe would be.

    Darwinism is not scientifically provable but it’s fairly easy to prove the earth is significantly older than a few thousand years.
    Actually–it’s not. All measurements of age are indirect, and rely on premises that are assumed and not self-evident (uniformism and gradualism, for example).

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    Comment by T. Chan | July 8, 2007 | Reply

  8. Look at it this way:

    When Jesus made wine at Cana, he “short-circuited” something that is necessarily a product of age. He made an old beverage in an instant. The same way he could have made an old universe in six days six thousand years ago. Is it any more of a miracle to believe in than to believe in random forces creating themselves and eventually producing man?

    So, one way or another, it should be studied as an old universe, since that is what God made, and that is what observation supports. If you were at Cana and were served a bottle of Chateau Dieu, you would study it as if it were properly aged.

    Whether or not he made an old universe six thousand years ago or whether or not he did it in time is the mystery, which cannot be solved by physical sciences.

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    Comment by Erik Keilholtz | July 9, 2007 | Reply

  9. I am deeply disappointed to learn that even among my fellow Catholics there are people who are profoundly ignorant about how science actually works. Sure, evolution is a theory; so is gravity! They are both good theories. The evidence for an ancient and dynamic universe, a very old earth, and a 3.5 billion year history of life on earth is overwhelming, testified to consiliently by astronomy, planetary geology, paleontology, genetics, comparative anatomy, neurology, and archaeology. The only people who believe otherwise are simple folk, charlatans, fundamentalists, or self-styled “scientists” who obtained mail-order “degrees.” By accepting and promoting this “Young Earth” Creationist or “Intelligent Design” Creationist rubbish, we are flushing down the intellectual toilet the credibility of the Catholic witness, just when it is most sorely needed in critical debates about abortion, stem cell research, cloning, and other vital topics. Please, let’s all grow up intellectually! Study at a university!
    Dr. Peter Hess, National Center for Science Education (NCSE)

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    Comment by Peter Hess | July 20, 2007 | Reply

  10. Greetings Dr. Hess. You wrote:

    “I am deeply disappointed to learn that even among my fellow Catholics there are people who are profoundly ignorant about how science actually works.”

    Shocking, isn’t it?

    “Sure, evolution is a theory; so is gravity! They are both good theories.”

    Some theories are better than others. The theory of gravity has the advantage of being an observable phenomenon and is therefore easily tested by repeatable experiments. Evolution (in the macro-sense pertaining to man), if it happened at all, happened only once, was not observed, and cannot be repeated. Evolution is really more conjecture than theory.

    “The evidence for an ancient and dynamic universe, a very old earth, and a 3.5 billion year history of life on earth is overwhelming, testified to consiliently by astronomy, planetary geology, paleontology, genetics, comparative anatomy, neurology, and archaeology.”

    When I was in school (a public university) the dogma was 4.6 billion years. Has it come down now to 3.5 billion? That’s quite a reduction: 1 billion years or 22% of the previous estimate. Dating can be tricky, no?

    In any case you are ignoring Bishop Vasa’s argument and the arguments of those who challenge old earth assumptions. Uniformitarianism is a useful assumption for short-term dating, but it is merely a useful fiction. As Catholics we know that matter was created from nothing, and that there was a time when the laws of nature did not exist as we presently observe them. What is more, we know there have been times in history when the laws of nature were suspended for various reasons: the great flood, miracles, etc. If this knowledge does not inform dating methods, the results are guaranteed to be erroneous.

    “The only people who believe otherwise are simple folk, charlatans, fundamentalists, or self-styled ‘scientists’ who obtained mail-order ‘degrees.'”

    Now here we go again with the insults, ridicule, and abuse. And lies. The Board of Advisors for the Kolbe Center lists the following:

    Theological Advisor
    Rev. Victor Warkulwiz, Ph.D., Physics, M.Div, M.A., Theology

    Advisory Council
    Rev. James Anderson, Ph.D. Philosophy

    Robert Bennett, Ph.D.,Physics

    Eric Bermingham,
    M.S., Aerospace Eng.

    Robin Bernhoft,
    MD, FACS

    Eugene Conti,
    MD, M.S., Marine Science

    Maciej Giertych,
    Ph.D., Biology

    Dean Kenyon,
    Ph.D., Biophysics

    Rev. George Kosicki
    Ph.D., Biochemistry

    Jaqueline Lee,
    M.S. Geology

    Joseph Mastropaolo,
    Ph.D., Kinesiology

    Thomas McFadden,
    M.S., Eng. Admin.

    Edward Razz,
    M.S., Mech. Eng.

    Thomas Schuman,
    Ph.D., Chemistry

    Josef Seifert,
    Ph.D., Philosophy

    Joseph Strada,
    Ph.D., Aerospace Eng

    Dominique Tassot
    Ph.D., Philosophy

    Michael Zaccaria,
    Ph.D., Aerospace Eng

    Are all those M.S. and Ph.D. degrees “mail order degrees”?

    “Please, let’s all grow up intellectually! Study at a university!”

    Oh, dear.

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    Comment by Jeff Culbreath | July 20, 2007 | Reply

  11. Jeff, I suspect you are confusing “fact” with “theory” (a common young earth creationist mistake). Facts are low-level things, the philosophy of science, whereas theories stand at a higher level. Gravity is not observable — it is a theory to explain the observable fact that things fall down, and it’s a better theory than the Aristotelian one, namely that heavy things seek their “natural places.” Evolution is a theory to explain the observable fact that populations change over time; the change in the fossil record over millions of years is a fact. Other theories for why populations change might include the divine will, or magic, but evolution is a more coherent theory. There was an interesting article last week about change observed in a in New Zealand butterfly species: “Butterflies fast forward evolution to evade death: Within 10 generations, males developed immunity to deadly parasite
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19733274/

    Creationism as a theory has provided no new discoveries at all – in neither medicine, nor geology, nor biology, nor astronomy. It is a fruitless theory from a scientific point of view. Evolution can explain why bacteria become multi-drug resistant; creationism cannot, unless you say it is because God will sit to punish humans for our sinfulness. That would be a theory, but not testable.
    Best wishes,
    Peter

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    Comment by Peter Hess | July 20, 2007 | Reply

  12. Dear Peter and Michael et al:

    Regarding Bishop Vasa’s comments and the true age of the earth and the universe and using methods man has discovered I suggest the following are worthy of consideration as testable methods: (1) One method for measuring the passage of time is long-age radiometric dating. Using those methods that give can give very old ages such as K/Ar, Ar/Ar, etc scientists have obtained ages for different crystals from Mt. St. Helens last expansion of the lava cone in 1986 as having happened 0.35 million – 2.7 million years ago. I have had a short paper published on the many problems of using these methods entitled: “More Failures for K/Ar dating” (Miller, 2006}; do the math — that’s 17,000-135,000 times older than the actual time it happened,~ 20 years ago. This is just one of many such anomalies world wide. (2) Radiocarbon dating on the other hand has a very short half life which means that the most advanced lab equipment [Accelerated Mass Spectrometer] can only detect C-14 atoms in fossils up to ~80,000 RC. Yet direct C-14 dating of the fossils in alleged 65 to 225 Million year old rocks give RC ages of 10,000 to 33,000 RC years for dinosasur bones and fossil wood. Dinosaurs allegedly became extinct 65 Million years BP (before the present). Again do the math —65,000,000/25,000 = 2600 times older than C-14 suggests. Trace amounts of C-14 are found in diamonds, supposedly a billion years old [gave ages of 58,000-78,000 RC years]. (3) Pristine Fossil human footprints have been found with dinosaur fossil footprint intermingling with each other in several locations [Cretaceous and Jurassic limestone or sandstone with C-14 dates for wood in the clay layers between rock strata at 12,800 to 37,000 RC years]. OK now which clocks need cleaning? And will the real fundamentalists please stand up and be recognized? References upon request.

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    Comment by Hugh Miller | July 25, 2007 | Reply

  13. Bravo Mr. (Dr.?) Miller! There are a plethora of disturbing facts (yes hard scientific facts, Mr. Hess) regarding dating, both geological assumptions (uniformity) and the “harder” chemical/physical dating (another example is Polonium halos). Unfortunately these are ignored by one side.

    Again Bravo- True Hard Science will enlighten us all!

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    Comment by J Wilson | July 25, 2007 | Reply

  14. Evolution is a vital, well-supported, unifying principle of the biological sciences, and the scientific evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of the idea that all living things share a common ancestry. Although there are legitimate debates about the patterns and processes of evolution, there is no serious scientific doubt that evolution occurred or that natural selection is a major mechanism in its occurrence. It is scientifically inappropriate and pedagogically irresponsible for creationist pseudoscience, including but not limited to “intelligent design,” to be introduced into the science curricula of our nation’s public schools. Catholics who are themselves untutored as to how science works should not participate in deceiving schoolchildren. The effect of this is that when children grow up and learn they have been deceived, they often misguidedly reject the Catholic faith as a whole.

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    Comment by Peter Hess | August 22, 2007 | Reply


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