Jump to content


- - - - -

How old is the earth?


  • Please log in to reply
286 replies to this topic

#61 Owen Jones

Owen Jones

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,341 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 19 October 2010 - 02:25 PM

Many Christians believe that in order to debunk Darwinism it is necessary to disprove the theory that the earth is billions of years old. Obviously, if the earth is only 6,000 years old, the theory of evolution has no standing whatsoever. Were it that easy! There are many substantive reasons as to why Darwinian evolution is neither "scientific" nor philosophically rational. But it takes some work. The theory that the earth is billions of years old is defended on the basis of the existence of many extinct species, the history of geological disruptions, the time it takes, for example, for something like the Grand Canyon to be "created" through gradual erosion, but the most commonly used argument is carbon dating. Some people have tried to argue that carbon dating is not sacrosanct because it presumes a consistent, steady state of decay of the Carbon 14 molecule (atom?) which they say cannot be proven, and could be a false theory based on the possibility of major cosmic ray influences. And so the argument goes on and on. My own view is that Christians should understand that the age of the earth is not really relevant to the arguments posited between evolution and its critics. The theory of evolution as a theory of origins is at the heart of the matter. There is no such thing as a scientific theory as to the how and why of existence. And yet people who claim to be rational and scientific act as if Darwinism explains how things come into existence, and why they are the way they are at present.

#62 David Lanier

David Lanier

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 138 posts

Posted 20 October 2010 - 01:19 AM

Thank you for Thomas Hopko's lecture about this question, Mr. David Lanier.
Is there a book variant of the lecture?


I am not aware of a book on this by Fr. Hopko Denis. He just finished up the lecture series in August of this year, so I imagine it's a little early to expect a book to be released, but again, I'm not really sure. It would be great to see a book on this though.

#63 Benjamin Amis

Benjamin Amis

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 134 posts

Posted 20 October 2010 - 03:10 PM

I am not aware of a book on this by Fr. Hopko Denis. He just finished up the lecture series in August of this year, so I imagine it's a little early to expect a book to be released, but again, I'm not really sure. It would be great to see a book on this though.


Perhaps we should all email him and request that he publish the lectures? ;-)

#64 Timothy Mulligan

Timothy Mulligan

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 51 posts

Posted 20 October 2010 - 10:37 PM

6000 years or 4.5 billion years?


In either case, as of this Saturday, it will be 9 years older. ;)

#65 Denis Chapaev

Denis Chapaev

    Junior Poster

  • Members
  • 4 posts

Posted 21 October 2010 - 04:41 PM

I am not aware of a book on this by Fr. Hopko Denis. He just finished up the lecture series in August of this year, so I imagine it's a little early to expect a book to be released, but again, I'm not really sure. It would be great to see a book on this though.

Please, report in this topic, when the book will been published. I perceive English in audio-files very bad, so more comfortable to get the book.

#66 David Lanier

David Lanier

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 138 posts

Posted 25 October 2010 - 10:19 PM

Please, report in this topic, when the book will been published. I perceive English in audio-files very bad, so more comfortable to get the book.


Denis I do not know father Hopko personally, but I will try to get word to him. No guarantees it will ever be published in a book however, but it seems that it would be a great topic for a book and I don't know of any Orthodox books covering the subject of Darwin and Christianity currently; so why not?

#67 Benjamin Amis

Benjamin Amis

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 134 posts

Posted 26 October 2010 - 11:34 AM

I've heard Fr. Hopko say on occassion that he does his best to read each and every email he receives, and usually answer them in some way, either by simply replying, or a lot of times I've heard him dedicate an episode of his podcast Speaking the Truth in Love on Ancient Faith Radio to an email question he has received. Anyone who wants to email him about this...it couldn't hurt.

#68 Paul Cowan

Paul Cowan

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,064 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 26 October 2010 - 02:25 PM

Maybe someone can invite him to join us here and share his thoughts first hand? since we seem to be referring to him so much lately.

#69 Evan

Evan

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 481 posts

Posted 26 October 2010 - 03:26 PM

Having listened to the whole series, I would add a word of caution about it. I've downloaded hours' worth of Father Hopko's podcasts. They were, in effect, my introduction to Orthodoxy. My debt to him is tremendous.

However, Father Hopko explicitly warns listeners that he has not read Darwin's works (he claims that he tried, and then stopped after a time) and is relying on "pop knowledge" (his words, not mine) of evolutionary theory. I would highly recommend his verse-by-verse studies of Genesis, simply because he's such a great exegete, but when it comes to reconciling the claims of Darwin and his followers with the Church's witness... I don't think Father Hopko purports to be an authority and I wouldn't take him to be one.

My opinion, of course. I wouldn't expect an exhaustive treatment of Darwin from those podcasts. He touches upon issues like animal death, reading Genesis literally (drawing a helpful distinction between what the Fathers meant by "literal history" and what we normally do), how we ought to regard apparent factual inconsistencies in the Bible, etc. But if you want an in-depth engagement with how Darwinian species development accords with Holy Scripture, he doesn't give that. Perhaps that's because he doesn't think Holy Scripture tells us anything directly about it that poses a problem with accepting Darwin's understanding. Then again, he says he hasn't read Darwin (he reads one passage after noting that he hasn't read all of "The Origin of Species (By Means of Natural Selection)."

I do not intend to disparage Father Hopko. But citing him as an authority on how the Orthodox should regard Darwin may be to claim more for Father Hopko than he claims for himself.

In Christ,
Evan

#70 Mark Harris

Mark Harris

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 125 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 26 October 2010 - 04:15 PM

Evolutionary theory implies transition through a multitude of iterations and attempts and these would be barely indestinguishable from each other. Clearly we see no scientific evidence of this and on the magnitude of change that Darwin was proposing that has come about through evolution we should see all of the steps even now , particularly as we are told evolution is happening all of the time. We should be seeing many more species variants of everything , every step of the chain , and a multitude of steps still living even between the Ape and Man but we don not see this , we see a huge variety of distinctly different species. I don't know how this ties back intot the age of the Earth debate but I think evolutionary theory , other than at the margin, is false.

#71 Michael Stickles

Michael Stickles

    Moderator

  • Moderators
  • 1,438 posts

Posted 27 October 2010 - 03:48 PM

Evolutionary theory implies transition through a multitude of iterations and attempts and these would be barely indestinguishable from each other. Clearly we see no scientific evidence of this and on the magnitude of change that Darwin was proposing that has come about through evolution we should see all of the steps even now , particularly as we are told evolution is happening all of the time. We should be seeing many more species variants of everything , every step of the chain , and a multitude of steps still living even between the Ape and Man but we don not see this , we see a huge variety of distinctly different species.


Not at all. I believe the currently dominant theory is "punctuated equilibrium", which postulates that species stay relatively stable for long periods of time, then undergo short bursts of rapid change (though "short" and "rapid" are understood from a geologic viewpoint, where 50,000 years would be "short"). One variant understands change to be driven primarily by isolated populations, which face stronger natural selection pressure. So, transition forms would be comparatively rare in time and space, and pushed out rapidly by the succeeding generations until a new stable form is reached. So, if among critter A's population, a subgroup A1 becomes isolated and undergoes evolution through B, C, D, E, F, and G before becoming stable as H, you would expect to only end up seeing A and H, with B through G undergoing successive "extinctions".

That's not to say I see this as a compelling theory - I don't. But it does for the most part sidestep the objections you've raised. If you were to find other objections that it couldn't sidestep, the theory would just "evolve" again into something that could explain or sidestep them. Evolutionary theory does a much better job explaining evolutionary theory itself, than it does explaining the origin of species.

I don't know how this ties back intot the age of the Earth debate ...


Well, one way is that evolutionary theory - whether punctuated equilibrium, phyletic gradualism, or something else - absolutely requires a very old Earth, otherwise it would not have nearly enough time to produce what we see around us. On the other hand, young-Earth creationism absolutely requires the Earth to be only several thousand years old, otherwise the particular type of Biblical literalism they rely on would be falsified.

I'm pretty sure Orthodoxy doesn't have a particular doctrinal stake in anything that would absolutely require an old, young, or middle-aged Earth. Some of the Fathers did give young ages for the Earth, but as far as I know those have never been considered part of the consensus patrum.

In Christ,
Michael

#72 David Lanier

David Lanier

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 138 posts

Posted 28 October 2010 - 03:30 PM

Having listened to the whole series, I would add a word of caution about it. I've downloaded hours' worth of Father Hopko's podcasts. They were, in effect, my introduction to Orthodoxy. My debt to him is tremendous.

However, Father Hopko explicitly warns listeners that he has not read Darwin's works (he claims that he tried, and then stopped after a time) and is relying on "pop knowledge" (his words, not mine) of evolutionary theory. I would highly recommend his verse-by-verse studies of Genesis, simply because he's such a great exegete, but when it comes to reconciling the claims of Darwin and his followers with the Church's witness... I don't think Father Hopko purports to be an authority and I wouldn't take him to be one.

My opinion, of course. I wouldn't expect an exhaustive treatment of Darwin from those podcasts. He touches upon issues like animal death, reading Genesis literally (drawing a helpful distinction between what the Fathers meant by "literal history" and what we normally do), how we ought to regard apparent factual inconsistencies in the Bible, etc. But if you want an in-depth engagement with how Darwinian species development accords with Holy Scripture, he doesn't give that. Perhaps that's because he doesn't think Holy Scripture tells us anything directly about it that poses a problem with accepting Darwin's understanding. Then again, he says he hasn't read Darwin (he reads one passage after noting that he hasn't read all of "The Origin of Species (By Means of Natural Selection)."

I do not intend to disparage Father Hopko. But citing him as an authority on how the Orthodox should regard Darwin may be to claim more for Father Hopko than he claims for himself.

In Christ,
Evan


Perhaps a better title for a book on the subject would be "Evolution and Orthodoxy" or "Evolution and Creationism from an Orthodox Perspective"? Granted that the Very Rev. Fr. Hopko admits he hasn't read Darwin's work, but he could collaborate with someone who does know more about Darwin in the effort to commit his thoughts and great wit to print. I imagine if he were to undertake the task of writing a book on the subject that it would take a year or better to get it drafted, revised, and print-worthy.

I did email him btw. :-)

#73 Yolanda

Yolanda

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 46 posts

Posted 29 October 2010 - 09:10 AM

This is a very interesting question 7519

#74 Owen Jones

Owen Jones

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,341 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 29 October 2010 - 12:42 PM

I agree with Evan although Fr. Hopko is at least taking a stab at it. But there is no substitute for going to the text. Most of Darwin's book, "On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life" is field biology. At the very least one should read the concluding chapter, which is revised in several editions. In one of those editions, Darwin attributes the theory of natural selection to Herbert Spencer, the English liberal economist and "social philosopher." What is clear, and Hopko alludes to this, is that Darwin uses an aesthetic argument in defense of the theory, not a scientific one. He argues in part that God could not have caused such diversity in nature that he has witnessed and examined. The bottom line is that it cannot, and never will be, a theory of origins, because of the problem of infinite regression, a problem with which Darwin was completely unfamiliar and never addressed.

#75 Owen Jones

Owen Jones

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,341 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 29 October 2010 - 12:44 PM

btw, Ben Stein deals with the problem of infinite regression in his documentary which Fr. Hopko refers to several times although he does not address this issue directly. I think it has passed by Fr. Hopko's attention as well. When Dawkins is interviewed, the way he deals with it is that aliens from outer space must have somehow seeded the earth with life initially. Which of course does not deal with the issue of infinite regression at all, merely exposes the fact that it is irrational.

#76 Evan

Evan

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 481 posts

Posted 29 October 2010 - 08:12 PM

btw, Ben Stein deals with the problem of infinite regression in his documentary which Fr. Hopko refers to several times although he does not address this issue directly. I think it has passed by Fr. Hopko's attention as well. When Dawkins is interviewed, the way he deals with it is that aliens from outer space must have somehow seeded the earth with life initially. Which of course does not deal with the issue of infinite regression at all, merely exposes the fact that it is irrational.


I have an idea of what you mean by the "infinite regression" problem, but not enough of one to know why Dawkins' "solution" actually doesn't solve it. It seems that it does from the standpoint of logic-- there is now something that "starts" the process-- even if it is profoundly silly (where did the alien species come from? Did evolution take place there, too? If it did, what started it? How would we know?). Could you clarify?

In Christ,
Evan

#77 SeraphimHJ

SeraphimHJ

    Junior Poster

  • Members
  • 1 posts

Posted 30 October 2010 - 11:47 PM

Hi! According to the Hebrew calendar, the earth should be [roughly] 6,158 years old.

#78 Ilaria

Ilaria

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 170 posts

Posted 31 October 2010 - 12:07 PM

Evolution and Creationism and how the two can live together. That is not a subject that can be easily addressed with a few paragraphs.

look how it may:
as far as I remember, I think it was S. Bulgakov who said something great in this regard:
I've heard that there are two opponents on the theory of life - the creationists and the evolutionists;the creationist believe that man was created by God; the evolutionists believe that life evolved so that man evolved from a monkey. I've also heard that they are fighting each other for their ideas; but I don't understand why.
I really believe that there are men created by God and there are men evolving from monkeys, who are quite different species then those created by God, in His image.

#79 Owen Jones

Owen Jones

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,341 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 31 October 2010 - 02:30 PM

Evan, you have made the point for me -- that infinite regression is silly. Absurd, irrational are two other descriptions of it. If life on earth was seeded by aliens, who or what seeded the aliens, and so on, ad infinitum. You cannot have an infinite series of logical propositions and end up with a logical conclusion about anything.

#80 Evan

Evan

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 481 posts

Posted 31 October 2010 - 05:48 PM

I can't pass up this opportunity to cite Thomas Aquinas' "Five Ways." Of course, the good doctor is following Aristotle.

From the Summa Theologica, First Part, Question 2, Article 2:

"The second way (to know that God exists) is from the nature of the efficient cause. In the world of sense we find there is an order of efficient causes. There is no case known (neither is it, indeed, possible) in which a thing is found to be the efficient cause of itself; for so it would be prior to itself, which is impossible. Now in efficient causes it is not possible to go on to infinity, because in all efficient causes following in order, the first is the cause of the intermediate cause, and the intermediate is the cause of the ultimate cause, whether the intermediate cause be several, or only one. Now to take away the cause is to take away the effect. Therefore, if there be no first cause among efficient causes, there will be no ultimate, nor any intermediate cause. But if in efficient causes it is possible to go on to infinity, there will be no first efficient cause, neither will there be an ultimate effect, nor any intermediate efficient causes; all of which is plainly false. Therefore it is necessary to admit a first efficient cause, to which everyone gives the name of God."


In Christ,
Evan




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users