Cosmic Calendar image below the descriptions
is perhaps the best example for contrasting the existing Scientific Consensus
with a BiasScience belief. The image is a large fixed size to show
details, so you will need to scroll through it to view all the details.
First, I will l examine the standard scientific theory of evolution: Nearly every scientific discipline has contributed knowledge (from over 200 years of research) to create the narrative that describes the history of our universe. This story includes details that can be explained by natural cause and effect processes which can be examined and supported using only the methods of science.
The Cosmic Calendar shows the entire history of the universe --- as understood by science --- compressed into a one year period. This was one of the most effective presentations used by both Carl Sagan and Neil deGrasse Tyson in their respective Cosmos series. It enabled viewers to visualize a relative time scale that covers the entire evolution of our universe (the Milky Way galaxy, our solar system, Earth and all living organisms) condensed into a familiar context, a 12-month calendar. We can follow the story of evolution as it played out over months, days, hours and finally seconds --- These, at least, are time measurements we can understand, and they can help us picture how important events in the history of the universe we inhabit relate to each other.
The calendar depicted below represents nearly 14 billion years (an incomprehensible number) compressed into a 12 month period -- each month represents just over 1 billion years. The month of December, because so much important evolution occurred, is displayed as 31 individual days -- each day represents almost 38 million years. It is interesting to observe that dinosaurs and early mammals coevolved for 160 million years (four days December 26 - 29). Dinosaurs were the dominant species during much of this period until the they, along with 3/4 of the plant and animal species, were driven to extinction 66 million years ago (on December 30) probably by the impact of a massive comet or asteroid. Some mammals survived the catastrophe, and with dinosaurs out of the picture, spent the next 66 million years evolving to fill the evolutionary void.
Then, On December 31, just a few minutes before midnight (around 200,000 years ago), modern humans (Homo sapiens) arrived on the scene and began to spread out across the globe.
Finally, the last minute of the year represents the most recent 26 thousand years of human history, and the tremendous body of archaeological data from cave paintings to burials, tools and other evidence that documented the life and development of humans until the advent of recorded history about 5,000 years ago.
Watch this summary of the 13 billion year cosmic evolution by Neil deGrasse Tyson who stated, "We've been empowered by the universe to figure itself out - and we've only just begun."
As you examine the Cosmic Calendar it is important to remember that evidence from every scientific discipline has contributed massive amounts of observations and research (many millions of interrelated, individual pieces of evidence) to formulate this account of how the universe, our solar system, Earth, and life evolved. Interpreting all the available evidence to form the incredible, interrelated complexity of nature that scientists of any religious persuasion (or lack of spiritual belief) can appreciate and study.
The scientific, theory of evolution is based on a tremendous body of interrelated evidence from the disciplines of chemistry, biology, physics, geology, astronomy, mathematics, paleontology, archaeology, etc.
The scientific, theory of evolution only addresses natural processes, interactions and timing - scientific theories can not depend on (or require) any supernatural intervention to explain any part of the natural processes being studied. By definition, supernatural intervention can explain any observation. From a scientific perspective of how natural cause and effect relationships operate to shape the universe, any explanations that require spiritual involvement are not only completely untestable, they provide no useful understanding of how the natural laws operate, and they generate no testable predictions to further scientific investigation. Specifically:
Next, let's examine claims that science supports Young Earth Creationist beliefs:
There are two important concepts to understand about Young Earth Creation Science (YECS) beliefs and claims:
If you scroll through the Cosmic Calendar to the bottom right corner of the image you can view a representation of the YECS theory. In the YECS model, every physical event anywhere in the universe has taken place in the last six to ten thousand years. This includes the development our galaxy (and billions of other galaxies), the dispersal of those galaxies to their present locations (apparently millions to billions of light-years away), cosmic events like nova (exploding stars which are seen within these apparently distant galaxies), the formation of our solar system and the earth, incredibly complex and detailed geological, paleontological, climatological and archeological records that seem to document periods of different, constantly changing geology, life forms, climates and human events. The YECS model must provide theories to explain all of this existing evidence using natural processes. Several examples:
The visible universe: The known universe is enormous - there is ongoing discussion and debate about the actual size, but it must be large enough to contain perhaps 2 trillion galaxies with an estimated 100 billion stars each. Our own galaxy is about 110,000 light years across and contains several hundred billion suns. There are a number of questions that can be asked of YEC astronomers.
An obvious question is: if the universe formed only six to ten thousand years ago the distribution of stars and galaxies must have come into existence very near their current positions - in other words thousands to billions of light years distant - yet, according to mainstream scientific theories on how fast light travels, light from the Andromeda galaxy, which was first described over 1,000 years ago, actually left our neighbor galaxy about 2.5 million years ago. Even more interesting, in 1885 a supernova was documented in the Andromeda galaxy (later confirmed by Hubble images).
The observation of exploding stars in distant galaxies, in addition to the distance of the galaxies themselves, poses an interesting challenge to the YECS model. Most stars and all galaxies are too far away for light to have reached earth in the few thousand years since creation. Were all photons which allow us to see all stellar objects created in transit from every star in the universe to earth so we are viewing a "movie" of what the universe would have looked like if it were billions of years old? If the exploding star in the Andromeda galaxy didn't exist until 6-10 thousand years ago, how did light from its explosion reach earth in 1885 from a galaxy that's 2.5 million light years away? This is not an isolated event, supernova (and other observable cosmic events) in distant galaxies much further away than Andromeda are recorded regularly. If you go to YECS sites like Answers in Genesis (AIG) you can read explanations, but they are superficial descriptions of unproven theories like "time-dilation models".
AIG states, "We should also remember that God is not limited to natural methods as we are. ... Even if our current creation models turn out to be wrong, there is no need to be embarrassed by distant starlight. For we rely upon the revealed Word of God as our starting point. Unlike the shifting opinions of men, such a foundation cannot fail." That admission alone is sufficient to remove YECS explanations from scientific consideration, since it is a direct admission that scientific theories are not valid unless they confirm a specific interpretation of scripture.
A New Creationist Cosmology: In No Time at All - Part 1, Part 2
Problems in Young Earth Creationism: Star Light Travel Time - Part 1, Part 2
Other YECS explanations for cosmic observations explored, Rationalwiki, Old Earth Ministries
Noah's flood: Since there is no Biblical record of earth-wide catastrophic events prior to the story of Noah, according to YECS beliefs, most of the existing fossil record and geologic features are explained by YECS theory to have formed about 4,300 years ago during, or relatively soon after, Noah's flood. These events include plate tectonics (continents speeding to their present location) and an ice age (that creates all available evidence). For that belief to be scientific, testable hypotheses are required to explain how all of the unique geological strata formed. These strata are unique layers, each with distinctive characteristics (rock types, fossils, structures, etc.) and exhibit virtually no evidence of the catastrophic deposition expected by a year-long, world-wide flood.
For example, in northern Arizona and southern Utah there are nearly 10,000 feet of layered sediments which contain records of marine organisms like trilobites (which no longer exist) in the bottom layers and land animals like dinosaurs (which no longer exist, yet they managed to leave tracks and lay eggs) in the upper layers. There is essentially no mixing of the fossils, structures or rock types in the different layers. Where did all these diverse organisms live before the flood?
I have read no YECS theory that even remotely explains how one catastrophic flood could have moved an entire ecosystem intact from somewhere else, carefully deposited it over a 130,000 square mile area, move another different ecosystem and deposit it intact over the previous layer (with no mixing) and repeated the process dozens of times to form the geological formations in just this one very small area on the planet. In addition to this problem, YECS models must include consistent explanations for all of the post-flood evidence of ice ages and how the humans and animals managed to migrate from Mt. Ararat all across the globe before the onset of a "mini ice age". Again, details are ultimately irrelevant to creationist models because, "Many pieces of the “Ice Age puzzle” remain unsolved, but one thing is sure. Based on the Bible, we can be certain that the changes occurred within just a few human generations—not over millions of years." (AIG)
The Grand Canyon, Monument to an Ancient Earth, The Grand Canyon and Creation Science, Grand Canyon Creation
Humanity: Another challenge for YECS "theories" is how to explain all the evidence of human and prehumen physical and cultural history (graves, tools, art, etc. that, by all accepted scientific measures, have existed undisturbed for tens to hundreds of thousands of years with no evidence of exposure to a catastrophic flood. To complicate the evidence, there are many fossils and artifacts from individuals that appear to be neither completely ape nor completely human, and they do not exist today.
Another problem for the YECS model is to provide a believable explanation for all of the evidence (fossils and artifacts) that has been found to document the existence of Homo habilis, Homo erectus, Homo rudolfensis, Homo heidelbergensis, Homo floresiensis and Homo neanderthalensis - not to mention representatives of all the other non-human-non-ape species? Just one of many questions; were representatives of all these species on Noah's ark? If so, exactly how does the YECS model explain the distribution of these species, their complete extinction and the preservation of their evidence undisturbed by the flood? If they missed the ark, then, like all the other fossil evidence, how did a single catastrophic flood carefully preserve the physical evidence detailing where and how they lived - bones, tools and any other evidence (such as footprints, evidence of hearths, or butchery marks on animal bones)?
There are many unanswered questions, discussions and disagreements among paleontologists, paleoanthropologists and archaeologists as they interpret pre-human evidence, but they are grounded on predictions based on natural science. However, AIG and other creationist organizations claim, "The Bible leaves absolutely no room for pre-humans." This is another example of how YECS beliefs depart from science by defining and restricting the conclusions that can be made from an analysis of the physical evidence. This article is an interesting discussion of dissenting YECS views, but regardless of whether Neanderthals (or other related species) are human or not the existing evidence must be explained by the actions of some recognized natural processes.
As can be seen from the few quotes above (and any other YECS literature you read), the belief in a universal creation and global flood (6 - 10 and 4 thousand years ago respectively) does not really depend on science or the natural, physical evidence scientists try to understand and explain. YECS beliefs depend exclusively on a specific interpretation of a few Biblical passages, and science is only employed to try and demonstrate the natural evidence proves those beliefs.
For those scientists, like myself, who are also Christians, it is far easier to accept the hypothesis that there are other interpretations of the ancient Scriptures that do not require the conclusions of science to support the YECS beliefs - and celebrate God's Creation and allow it to shine forth in all it's natural glory.
The cosmic calendar and these comments are not a detailed description of specific evidence that validates the evolutionary theory of a nearly 14 billion year-old universe and invalidates the YECS theory that every piece of physical evidence in the universe is less than 10 thousand years old. I will provide supporting references elsewhere. This section is designed to highlight the remarkably imaginative explanations YECS supporters must employ in order to claim that all scientific evidence actually validates their theory of a young earth created over a six-day period a very short time ago instead of a universe that, according to all mainstream scientific theories in all relevant disciplines, required an evolutionary process nearly five trillion times longer.
The ironic fact is that whether you are a Christian, a believer in another religion, an agnostic or an atheist, the physical evidence is exactly the same. Also, the beauty of the natural universe can be appreciated and celebrated by all.
Note: Relative dates on the calendar demonstrate approximate times and relationships of historical events. Dates shown on the calendar are relative, not exact, and they may not agree with dates listed in various sources for a variety of reasons, including disagreements in dates of various historic events, and my calculations using 13.8 billion years as the age of the universe - different ages will result in a different number of years per unit of measure.
Original Image Created by Eric Fisk. Addition of Creationist Timeline and other adjustments by Randy Johnson