This week’s prompt for our geojournal is: “Science teaches us the Earth is 4.54 billion years old. Write a journal entry that explains how you reconcile the apparent conflict between this and the creation of the Earth according to the Bible.”
Well, that seems like a silly assignment to me, because I’m not sold on either side of the argument. Regarding the biblical side, I took World Foundations from BYU-I and it taught that the creation was a metaphor. It argued that the lack of scientific information in the bible is an indication that the author’s purpose was not scientific instruction. Although there is insight into some literal mechanics of the creation, the purpose was to teach principles leading to salvation, not science.
Regarding the age of the earth, the theory seems to be based on carbon dating and half-lives, which I don’t buy yet. I had a great discussion with my physics teacher husband while we walked on the beach in Oregon.
It turns out that besides the earth being the center of the universe, there have been many other scientific beliefs that have changed when more information was discovered. I had him make me a bullet list, which he cherry picked from Wikipedia’s Superseded Scientific Theories:
- Miasma theory of disease – the theory that diseases are caused by “bad air.” No experimental support, and rendered obsolete by the germ theory of disease.
- Classical elements – All matter was once thought to be composed of various combinations of classical elements (most famously air, earth, fire, and water). This was finally refuted by Antoine Lavoisier‘s publication of Elements of Chemistry, which contained the first modern list of chemical elements, in 1789.
- Luminiferous aether – failed to be detected by the sufficiently sensitive Michelson-Morley experiment, made obsolete by Einstein‘s work.
- Newtonian gravity – superseded by general relativity, to which it is an excellent approximation unless typical speeds approach that of light in a vacuum. The anomalous perihelion precession of Mercury was the first observational evidence that Newtonian gravity was not totally accurate.
- Steady state theory, a model developed by Hermann Bondi, Thomas Gold, and Fred Hoyle whereby the expanding universe was in a steady state, and had no beginning. It was a competitor of the Big Bang model until evidence supporting the Big Bang and falsifying the steady state was found.
- Democritus, the originator of atomic theory, held that everything is composed of atoms, which are indestructible. His claim that atoms are indestructible is not the reason for regarding his theory superseded as it was later scientists who identified the concept of atom with particle which shown itself to be destructible later. The reason we may consider Democritus theory as superseded is his position, that there are several kinds of atoms which were said to explain occurrence of pure materials like water or iron and its mix which are characteristics that today science identify with molecules rather than with indestructible primary particles. Democritus also held the position that between atoms, there lies empty space which was of different nature then atoms itself and which allowed atoms to move. This view on space and matter was held until Einstein described spacetime as being relative and connected to matter.
- John Dalton‘s model of the atom, which held that atoms are indivisible and indestructible (superseded by nuclear physics) and that all atoms of a given element are identical in mass (superseded by discovery of atomic isotopes).
- Plum pudding model of the atom—assuming the protons and electrons were mixed together in a single mass
- Rutherford model of the atom with an impenetrable nucleus orbited by electrons
- Bohr model with quantized orbits
- Electron cloud model following the development of quantum mechanics in 1925 and the eventual atomic orbital models derived from the quantum mechanical solution to the hydrogen atom
So I’ll go ahead and wait, because more science may come along that bridges the gap between the age of the earth and the story of creation in the bible. I’ve got time.