You have alluded to young earth ideas in your blog. So how do you respond to articles like this which claim the recent discovery that the Amazon River is 11 million years old?
I'm familiar with Ken Ham. But I tend to be a little embarrassed by the young earth Christians. Perhaps that is really a problem with me.
Just to clarify, I never said I was a young earth creationist. I never said I was an old earth creationist either. I would venture to say that I am a supporter of the Intelligent Design movement, but the movement does not take a position on the age of anything (most personal opinions of ID supporters lean towards old earth).
My opinion on the matter of origins, from an objectively scientific view point, is that it lies in mystery. I don't think science has the means to tell us how old man is, how old life is, how old the earth is, or even how old the universe is. Estimations could be made based on certain data, but it is all conjecture. Even the age of the Amazon (see link above) is based on speculation according to data, but the data these scientists analyzed is set according to a model of how things should have been or might have been and not necessarily how they were. I'm not denying the Amazon is 11 million years old, but I'm pretty sure there is no objective proof that it is. I don't think we will ever know in fact, because in order for data like that to be objective we have to know every detail of what was going on in that specific area every single day over the past 11 million years. No technology can possibly provide that information except a time machine (which we yet do not have). You can recreate it on a computer, but how do you know your recreation is objective? How do you know you havn't missed some very important information in your analysis? In the end, it all is just very silly and pointless.
Even an honest scientist will tell you that there really is no such thing as absolutes with the scientific method, especially if it cannot be observed at the present moment (like a sunrise, or gravitation, or weather conditions). Even a scientific fact is fallible and is open to scrutiny. A scientific fact is merely assumed to be true, and can be refuted at any point. This quote from Harvard biologist Stephen Jay Gould illustrates the issue nicely:
"Moreover, 'fact' doesn't mean 'absolute certainty'; there ain't no such animal in an exciting and complex world. The final proofs of logic and mathematics flow deductively from stated premises and achieve certainty only because they are NOT about the empirical world. ...In science 'fact' can only mean 'confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional consent.' I suppose that apples might start to rise tomorrow, but the possibility does not merit equal time in physics classrooms."
Thus the great flaw of science is that it ultimately cannot provide absolute truth. Scientists who claim absolute truth on a matter, especially if it cannot be presently observed, are simply quacks. Their science has become a religion and their opinions are their god.
Religious people can be just as dogmatic on this subject. Faith, however, does not give us the right to be absolutists. Absolutes for people of faith can only come through direct revelation. And only direct revelation can truly answer the ultimate questions. As far as a direct revelation on the age of the universe, or the earth, or man, it has never been revealed. Scripture certainly does not provide an objective answer because Scripture is not a direct revelation of God. As Fr. John Romanides has stated:
"Is there a single Church Father who identifies Holy Scripture with the experience of theosis itself? No, there is not one, because God's revelation to mankind is the experience of theosis. In fact, since revelation is the experience of theosis, an experience that transcends all expressions and concepts, the identification of Holy Scripture with revelation is, in terms of dogmatic theology, pure heresy."
Since no single person has had a direct revelation of the actual age of the universe and the exact method of its origins, maybe we can know something about the original condition of the universe from the revelations of the Prophets, Apostles and Saints.
In fact, Patristic consensus holds that the universe in the beginning was very different than what it is today to the point where origins cannot possibly be studied objectively from a materialistic scientific point of view. St. Symeon the New Theologian summarizes the Patristic teaching that "the whole world had been brought into being by God as one thing, as a kind of paradise, at once incorruptible yet material and perceptible". This observation of St. Symeon echoes Wisdom of Solomon (1:13, 14): "God did not make death, neither does He take delight in the destruction of living things. God created all things that they might have their being; and the generations of the world were for preservation, and there is no poison of destruction in them". St. Symeon goes on to explain that before the original creation was "changed over to corruption" it did not "bear perishable fruits and...sprout thorns and thistles" (cf. Gen. 3:18), but had a different "law of nature". Regarding the original state of creation, St. Symeon further illustrates how both man and all living things were in a state of incorruption. St. John the Damascene says that before the transgression of Adam and Eve "there was neither rain nor tempest on the earth". St. Gregory of Sinai says Paradise had been "made between corruption and incorruption". St. Theophilus teaches that animals were not venomous before the fall. He with many Fathers also taught that beasts did not evoke fear in man in the prelapsarian world, but rather submitted to him. And of course, carnivory did not exist in the original creation.
Ultimately, from what we can judge by Scriptural and Patristic testimony, because the prelapsarian world - its vegetation, animals, and climate - were incorrupt, then we can safely conclude that the world before the fall is unknowable in its corrupt state by our corrupt minds. St. Ignatius Brianchaninov, a 19th century Church Father, gives remarkable detail concerning this matter:
"The earth - created, adorned, blessed by God - did not have any deficiencies. It was overflowing with refinement. 'God saw,' after the completion of the whole creation of the world, 'everything that He had made: and, behold, it was very good' (Gen. 1:31). Now the earth is presented to our eyes in a completely different look. We do not know her condition in holy virginity; we know her in the condition of corruption and accursedness, we know her already sentenced to burning; she was created for eternity. The God-inspired writer of Genesis says the earth in its original condition did not have need of tilling (Gen. 2:5): it brought forth by itself grains and other nourishing grasses, vegetables and fruits overabundantly and of superb worth. There were no harmful growths on it; plants were not subjected either to decay or to diseases; both decay and diseases, and the weeds themselves appeared after the alteration of the earth following the fall of man, as one ought to conclude from the words of God to Adam as he was being exiled from Paradise: 'Thorns and thistles shall it [the ground] bring forth to thee" (Gen. 3:18). According to its creation, there was on it only the splendid, only the wholesome, there was only that which was suitable for the immortal and blessed life of its inhabitants. Changes in the weather did not exist: it was continually the same - the most clear and favorable. There were no rains. A spring came forth from the earth and watered its face (Gen. 2:5,6). The beasts and other animals lived in perfect harmony among themselves, nourishing themselves on plant life (Gen. 1:30)."
A similar observation is made by St. Barsanuphios of Optina Monastery in Russia. Once, when standing before a window at night, he pointed to the moon and said to his disciple (the future Elder Nikon):
"Look - what a picture!... This is left to us as a consolation. It's no wonder that the Prophet David said: 'Thou hast gladdened me, O Lord, by Thy works' (Ps. 91:3). 'Thou hast gladdened me,' he says, although this is only a hint of that wonderous beauty, incomprehensible to human thought, which was originally created. We don't know what kind of moon there was then, what kind of sun, what kind of light.... All of this changed after the fall."
If someone tells me they are a young earther, Im perfectly fine with it. If someone tells me they are an old earther, I feel the same exact way as if they are a young earther. No one truly knows the age and origins of these things, and I only weary of those who claim to know - whether they base their conclusions on Science or Scripture.
It sort of reminds me of something Dr. Norman Geisler once told me: "Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays Im a young earther; Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays Im an old earther. Sunday I just focus on the Lord." That has basically become my motto on this subject.
*Patristic quotes taken from The Orthodox Word, "Created in Incorruption: The Orthodox Patristic Understanding of Man and the Cosmos in Their Original, Fallen, and Redeemed States", by Hieromonk Damascene; Vol. 44, No. 1-2, Jan.-Apr. 2008.