Is the hypothesis of Young Earth Creation (YEC) relevant to ID? Most in the ID community will say, “NO”, but let me offer some reasons to think the answer could be, “YES”.
The hypothesis of a young Earth or young universe comes from religious beliefs rooted in a chronology constructed by taking the genealogies in the Bible (like Luke Chapter 3, 1 Chronicles or the Table of Nations in Genesis 10). YEC is not strictly an Evangelical Christian hypothesis but is accepted by some Jewish traditions. For example, see this commentary on the Jewish calendar by physicist Gerald Schroeder:
One of the most obvious perceived contradictions between Torah and science is the age of the universe. Is it billions of years old, like scientific data, or is it thousands of years, like Biblical data? When we add up the generations of the Bible, we come to 5700-plus years. Whereas, data from the Hubble telescope or from the land based telescopes in Hawaii, indicate the age at about 15 billion years.
Let me clarify right at the start. The world may be only some 6000 years old. God could have put the fossils in the ground and juggled the light arriving from distant galaxies to make the world appear to be billions of years old. There is absolutely no way to disprove this claim. God being infinite could have made the world that way. There is another possible approach that also agrees with the ancient commentators’ description of God and nature. The world may be young and old simultaneously. In the following I consider this latter option.
Age of the Universe
[Gerald Schroeder was in the movie Expelled, and his writings were influential to converting Antony Flew from atheism to theism. He is obviosly on the pro-ID side of the debate.]
But, problematic for YEC-sympathetic skeptics like myself, most of the claims of a young cosmos proceed from religious beliefs, not hard empirical data, and worse, it is in conflict with mainstream accepted physics.
However, let us suppose that some future scientific discoveries begin to overturn mainstream views about the age of the universe. What if these discoveries cause us to seriously reconsider that the universe is substantially younger than it is today. And if not the whole universe, even demonstrating the Solar System, the Earth, or the geological column are young would have huge payoffs for ID.
One does not even need to revise long ages to 6000 years. Even demonstrating it is on the order of a few hundred million years, or demonstrating certain geological features are not more than 10 million years old vs. 500 million years old will absolutely overturn the dominance of Darwinism.
Most of the founding leaders of ID accept the conventional age of the universe. Few YECs have formal affiliations with ID organizations (like the Discovery Institute, IDEA, etc.) To my knowledge, only YECs like Marcus Ross, Paul Nelson, Nancy Pearcey, myself have had formal ties to ID organizations. ID is dominated (and I think that is a good thing) by those that accept the conventional age of the universe and the geological column. But what if the young cosmos or young Earth or young geological column hypothesis becomes scientifically defensible? The payoff will be enormous for ID, and most of evolutionary biology will be overturned.
Are there anomalies that have kept my hopes for a Young Cosmos (in spite of doubts) alive? Absolutely. The reason I’m posting this, is that when readers say, “Sal, why are you posting YEC stuff here at UD? Isn’t YEC irrelevant to ID?”
I’ll respond by saying, “No. It could be very relevant if true. If the universe or earth or even the geological column are demonstrated to be young, evolutionism is toast, and ID prevails.” And then I’ll point them to this essay.
The chances for the truthfulness of the young cosmos or young Earth or young geological column hypothesis is remote, but in light of the potential payoff, if one were a betting man like Pascal, betting on revised ages is a favorable wager. Nevertheless, ID proponents are still prevailing even with the assumption of old ages. A revision to young ages would be icing on the cake and ID’s ultimate triumph.
I use the word “Cocktail” in the title to emphasize the informal nature of this thread akin to a discussion over a beer or cocktail. Public blogs are for fruitful and informal brainstorms and are not intended as serious venues for scholarship. However, blogs might be a starting point for ideas leading to interesting research projects.
One professor of mine, James Trefil, recounted how a discussion over a beer was the start of a research project that led to his book, Are We Alone:The Possibility of Extraterrestrial Civilizations , which became an inspiration for many in the ID movement (even though Trefil himself completely rejects ID). Trefil famously said in that book:
If I were a religious man, I would say that everything we have learned about life in the past 20 years shows that we are unique and therefore special in God’s sight.